You may have recently read in the newspapers about a recent lawsuit where a man says he got mesothelioma from exposure to “Mr Fluffy,” a loose fill asbestos product used in his home. He is suing the Federal Government in the NSW Dust Diseases Tribunal, alleging negligence because it failed to stop installations of Mr Fluffy in homes and failed to warn residents of health dangers. The case may pave the way for many more claims, if successful, his lawyer said.
Mr Fluffy buy back and demolition scheme to begin in 2015
Approximately 1,020 homeowners in the Canberra area have been awaiting news of a possible compensation package after receiving a warning last February that their homes may still contain potentially deadly asbestos fibres.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the proposed demolition scheme and buy back would start next year after discussions with homeowners, and will take approximately five years to complete.
“The Commonwealth will provide a loan facility allowing us to enter into individual agreements with the home owners, to buy back and clear the blocks,” she said.
Under the proposed deal, the Government would sell off some of the cleared blocks of land to pay back up to 70 percent of the loan.
Key points of the Mr Fluffy buyback and demolition scheme
• Participation in the buyback scheme is voluntary
• The buyback offer is open until June 2015
• A relocation assistance package offers $10,000/household plus $2,000/child
• Both tenants and homeowners are entitled to relocation assistance
• The taskforce is seeking an exemption so that pensioner’s entitlements are not affected
• Not all items in the affected houses must be disposed of
• Householders will bear the cost of cleaning contaminated items
• Interstate firms will be invited to tender for the demolition program
• The taskforce is posting information to the affected residents
• Property buyback offers will be based on two independent valuations
Asbestos in Australia
Between 1945 and the late 1980s, Australia was one of the highest users, per capita, of asbestos-containing materials in the world.
Parts of Australia were asbestos mining hubs. Crocidolite (blue) asbestos, a particularly toxic type of asbestos, was mined at Wittenoom in Western Australia from the 1930s until 1966. Australia started regulating asbestos products in the late 1970s. In 1967 the use of crocidolite (blue) asbestos was banned, but the use of amosite (brown) asbestos continued until the mid-1980s. Chrysotile (white) asbestos was eventually banned at the end of 2003.
An estimated one third of all houses built during those decades contain asbestos materials. It is in kitchens, bathrooms, external cladding and ceilings.
In 2011, 606 Australians died from mesothelioma. It is estimated that for each death attributed to mesothelioma, two more people die from lung cancer caused by asbestos.
An increasing incidence of non-occupational mesothelioma is being identified that may be related to home renovations. That is why everyone needs to be aware about the risks posed by asbestos containing materials.