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The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is convinced the number workers sick from asbestos exposure will rise at electricity distribution company Ausgrid. The ETU stated that 49 asbestos-related illnesses have been cited in the last 20 years at Ausgrid. Recently, the same company uncovered asbestos in its underground substations in central Sydney.
Spokesperson for the company, Anthony O’Brien claims that majority of the hazardous material has been removed. “In the Sydney CBD asbestos has been present in some substations for a long time. We have removed the asbestos from 90 per cent of those stations, so more than 30 have had asbestos removed,” he said. The union alleges that work has been suspended on the sites because Ausgrid refuses to pay overtime for night work. Their efforts to make the areas safer have all been conducted after hours to avoid public scrutiny.
The ETU is currently pushing for the industry to design and implement an urgent removal plan The union’s state secretary Steve Butler has threatened work bans if no government action is taken. “I think it goes countrywide. I’ve got no doubt this problem exists in New South Wales, it exists in Victoria, it exists in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.” NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson supports Butler’s position on involving the government.
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