The government of Western Australia (WA) will carry out an audit of the products of Chinese materials supplier Yuanda after white asbestos was discovered in roof panels by a worker at the under-construction Perth Children’s Hospital last week.
Government tests confirmed on Thursday that the tiles contained white asbestos, or chrysotile, after a union commissioned its own test when a worker raised the alarm.
The worker is reported to have cut into a tile and discovered traces of what looked like the banned substance earlier in the week.
Yuanda’s Australian managing director Paul Dawson said he expected results today on sample testing of the other products, and claimed his company had been the victim of fraudulent test certificates provided by two Chinese suppliers, reports newspaper The Australian.
This is only the first step in a wide-ranging investigation– Peter Gow, WA Building Commissioner
The discovery occurred on level 8 of the hospital and the area has been sealed off, according to the WA department of heath.
The department said air sampling tests at the site over a 48-hour period, by three independent testing organisations, have all returned negative results for asbestos.
In a statement on Friday the contractor John Holland said there are approximately 150 atrium rooftop panels that may contain asbestos. It said the panels were delivered fully encapsulated and present no risk to people if the casing is not penetrated. However, it will now replace all the panels.
"Yuanda Australia provided John Holland with inspection and test certificates for all of its products supplied and installed at the PCH project," the company stated.
"Specifically, these inspection and test certificates confirmed that the atrium roof top panels did not contain asbestos.
"Actions will be taken to investigate and determine the failure of this process, but it will not delay the replacement of the panels."
Earlier this month is emerged that Yuanda also supplied metal skirting contaminated with asbestos to a tower under construction in Brisbane that will become the Queensland government’s new executive building.
WA Building Commissioner Peter Gow announced on Friday that he will carry out an independent audit of the use of Yuanda products all over the state, starting with Perth Children’s Hospital (pictured).
Gow told reporters that at least 10 buildings in the state would be tested.
"This is only the first step in a wide-ranging investigation," Gow said, adding that regulators are also working to identify how this product containing asbestos was able to enter the country, and would take action against builders or importers if required.
"If during the investigation there is any evidence of inappropriate or improper conduct, it will be dealt with accordingly by the relevant regulator," he said.
The A$1.2bn Perth Children’s Hospital is being built on the QEII Medical Centre site in Nedlands and will be the state’s dedicated children’s hospital. It was due to open in October 2016.
Exposure to white asbestos can lead to ling diseases such as cancer and mesothelioma.
Image: Around 150 roof tiles are thought to be contaminated with white asbestos at the Perth Children’s Hospital, show here under construction (John Holland)