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  Issue No 28 Official Organ of LaborNet 27 August 1999  

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Environment

Greens, CFMEU call for Action on Ceiling Dust

By Lee Rhiannon - NSW Greens MLC

Residents and workers, associated with houses damaged in the freak hail storm that hit Sydney earlier this year, may have been exposed to harmful levels of toxic materials found in the ceiling dust of the damaged buildings

Concerns about the health of these people has been taken up by representatives of The Greens, the CFMEU (construction division) and the LEAD group (the toxic metals lobby action organisation) at a meeting with Mr Debus, the Minister for Emergency Services. The deputation requested that the NSW government direct insurance companies to cover the full costs of cleaning up contaminated ceiling dust.

"We were very pleased with the positive hearing Mr Debus gave to our joint request that insurance companies be required to cover the full costs of removing all dust from ceiling cavities before work begins," Gerry Ayers, OH&S Coordinator with the Building Trades Group stated.

"Mr Debus indicated that he saw merit in our suggestion and that he would ensure this matter comes up at the Southern Sydney Disaster Recovery Taskforce.

"If insurance companies are not obliged to pay, the important job of cleaning up the contaminated ceiling dust will not occur. Workers and people living in these houses will be exposed to dangerous substances," Gerry Ayers added.

Ceiling dust frequently contains a cocktail of carcinogenic heavy metals, asbestos, pesticides and other toxic and dangerous substances.

Greens member of the NSW Upper House, Ms Lee Rhiannon, in correspondence with the Minister prior to the meeting, had warned that some Sydney homes have lead levels as high as 20,000 parts per million (ppm). As anything above 300 ppm is regarded as a moderate biohazard, there clearly is a need for urgent action to protect people living or working in a building where the ceiling is being replaced.

"Mr Debus, as the Minister, and all those involved in emergency services have responded fantastically in the aftermath of the hail storm. Now the Minister needs to follow through and ensure residents and workers do not suffer. The government needs to oblige insurance companies to accept their responsibility. Anything less will put people's health at serious risk.," added Lee Rhiannon.

Elizabeth O'Brien, coordinator of the LEAD group, explained to the Minister that many residents and workers in 'tarp' city do not understand the dangers posed by contaminated ceiling dust.

"We are aware that most of the workers involved are contractors and therefore do not enjoy the safeguards normally associated with permanent employment," added Elizabeth O'Brien.


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*   Issue 28 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Talking Turkey
A full transcript of an important interview with the Minister for Workplace Relations, the Hon Peter Reith.
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*  Politics: What Reith told the ILO
Workers Online has recevied a transcript of roving statesman Peter Reith's talk to the ILO in Geneva. This one's not satire.
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*  Unions: What the Workers Said
Actor Di Smith was one of nine ordinary workers who addressed this week's rally. Here's what she had to say.
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*  International: Cancelling the Debt
Sign this Jubilee 2000 email petition now and tell the world's most powerful leaders to cancel the unpayable debts of the world's poorest countries by the year 2000.
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*  Environment: Greens, CFMEU call for Action on Ceiling Dust
Residents and workers, associated with houses damaged in the freak hail storm that hit Sydney earlier this year, may have been exposed to harmful levels of toxic materials found in the ceiling dust of the damaged buildings
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*  History: Eveleigh Railway Workshops celebration
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site this Sunday.
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*  Republic: Does the Republic Need a President?
It seems inevitable that Australia will eventually become a republic but do we need a president?
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*  Satire: Liberals May Need to Sell of More of Telstra
'We're running low in key marginals, says Alston
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*  Review: A Kind of Violence
Extracts from Yosi Berger's new book, telling the real stories behind workpalce safety.
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News
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»  Youth Wages: Is Bevis a Butthead?
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»  Which Bank Harasses Sick Workers?
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»  SOCOG Eyes Wide Shut on Games Gear
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»  Scully Uses Reith First Wave Against Rail Workers
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»  Reith Building Blitz Hits Bum Note
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»  Entitlements Focus Shifts Back to Woodlawn
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»  Fresh South Coast Ballot Called
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»  "Big Drum Up" For East Timor
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»  Eric Lee Public Forum
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Columns
»  Guest Report
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»  Sport
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Piers Watch
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Letters to the editor
»  Vizard: Net Content Is Vital
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»  No, No, No to MSN Model
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»  The Vizard deal. Is it another great deal for you!!!!???
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