Ceiling asbestos time bombs feared

3:17 pm on 11 January 2013

The Canterbury District Health Board says the Earthquake Commission's handling of asbestos in quake-damaged houses will turn them into ticking time bombs.

As part of its quake repair programme, the commission is encasing undisturbed asbestos in cracked ceilings, rather than removing it entirely.

Canterbury's Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey said houses with asbestos in them often have a certain type of ceiling tile and by boarding up the ceilings the EQC repairs would hide the asbestos from tenants and future owners.

Dr Humphrey said future owners would put themselves at risk if they drill into the asbestos above the ceiling to put in new lights or do home renovations.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority turned down an interview with Radio New Zealand's Summer Report programme, but issued a statement.

''Issues relating to asbestos in the earthquake recovery are being monitored by CERA, which has its own policies for dealing with the material in cases such as CERA managed demolitions," it said.

''The policies of EQC are a matter for EQC, however it works with regulatory agencies such as Building and Housing and the Ministry of Health to ensure the necessary standards are being met.''