Over a hundred power plant workers have been exposed to asbestos in Australia. They have since been sent home indefinitely.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney said that workers had been sent home after tests confirmed high levels of asbestos following some demolition work taken up at Verve Energy's Kwinana Power Plant in Western Australia. He said that tests confirmed asbestos dust had been scattered throughout the plant.
Mr McCartney said that plant operator Verve had confirmed there were no safe areas for his members to work.
He said that testing had even found asbestos fibres in areas surrounding the rest rooms and canteen.
A Verve spokesman said the company was testing the station for asbestos after monitoring non air-borne traces that had been found in some parts of the station during regular monitoring, Chris Thomson reported for WA Today.
The monitoring had been stepped up during recent demolition work.
"As a precaution, some employees have been assigned alternative duties while the extent and source of contamination is confirmed," the spokesman said.
"The contaminated area is being environmentally cleaned and monitoring by occupational hygienists is continuing."
He said the station continued to operate with no threat to power supplies, and that Verve was co-operating with regulatory authorities.
Labor leader Eric Ripper said that "hundreds" of workers may have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.
"Demolition work at the Kwinana power station has uncovered old pipes coated with asbestos," he said.
"Workers were sent home yesterday following testing which found positive readings for asbestos at 18 of the 30 test sites.
"It appears the entire plant may be contaminated with asbestos and workers have been sent home indefinitely."
Mr Ripper called for immediate and comprehensive testing of the station to establish the likely level of exposure.
"These workers are now in limbo," he said.
"They have no idea as to the level of exposure they may have endured and they are understandably fearful and very concerned about their health."