Australia continues to uncover materials containing asbestos illegally imported in Australia. The below article was published by abc.net.au on 13th August 2015 online here.
Australians have been unwittingly exposed to large quantities of illegally imported asbestos.
The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) has told a Senate inquiry into non-conforming building products a wide range of imported goods and materials have been found with asbestos and not just in the building industry.
The report said there was no guarantee Australian buildings constructed post the 2003 ban on asbestos imports were free of the killer substance.
In November last year, cement compound board was found to contain chrysotile asbestos imported into the ACT from China.
Last year in New South Wales an owner builder purchased a shed from a supplier on the internet, which also contained chrysotile asbestos in a sealing tape installed between roof sheets.
“There has also been instances which … [are] outside this Senate inquiry that things like motor vehicle parts and small machinery have had asbestos components despite the fact they’ve been labelled by the manufacturer that they’re asbestos free,” ASEA chairman Geoff Fary said.
“In some parts of the world, including parts of the United States, something which is less than one per cent asbestos by volume is labelled asbestos free.”
The report recommends greater enforcement of regulations which include fines of up to $170,000 for breaches along with more surveillance and screening.
ASEA confirmed there had only been two prosecutions by Department of Immigration and Border Protection since 2008 and that asbestos often went undetected by customs.
It said the majority of goods found with asbestos in Australia originated from Asia.