Worker recalls school's asbestos

JEFF Crowe remembers a snowstorm of dust in the corridors of Burnie High School in the mid 1970s.

It was not until much later that he discovered that it was asbestos.

Mr Crowe said he had been a construction worker at the school, contracted by the then Education Department, to upgrade corridors and classrooms.

"Every door had to have the cover strip of the base removed and then planed ... they didn't know the internal fire doors had asbestos in them," Mr Crowe said.

"It created this white dust and what was happening is that students were moving from class periods and it was like a snowstorm in the corridors. Their footprints put marks on the dust in the floor."

Mr Crowe has been campaigning for a number of years via Facebook to let people know of their possible exposure to asbestos during 1978.

His requests for assistance from the state government, to find students and teachers who were at the school during those years, have not been met.

Mr Crowe said a workmate of his died from mesothelioma and he had found a student who attended the high school who also died of the devastating cancer.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said he would respond to any individual's specific inquiry

"The Department of Education takes all necessary steps to manage the presence of any asbestos in Tasmanian government schools and departmental buildings and is committed to ensuring that asbestos continues to be managed in an appropriate manner," he said.

Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation president Simon Cocker said Mr Crowe had made a statutory declaration about what was witnessed at Burnie High School during 1977, 1978 and 1979 with regards to asbestos.

Mr Cocker said the state government had an obligation to maintain a register of potential exposure.

"Should people end up with asbestos diseases there would be an existing record of their exposure, making it easier for them if they ever needed to lodge a claim," Mr Cocker said.


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