ACT News

Mr Fluffy house demolished in first stage of Asbestos Taskforce pilot program

ACT Work Safety said uncovering six bags worth of loose-fill asbestos in the first Mr Fluffy home demolition justified the expense of the ACT Government's buyback prorgam. 

The demolition of the first Mr Fluffy house under government buyback

A timelapse video shows workers used heavy machinery to tear down the first home to be demolished under the ACT government's Mr Fluffy buy back scheme. Video supplied by the ACT Government. No sound

Neighbours watched as the creaking arm of the long reach excavator made the first strike into the roof of the four-bedroom house on 81 Sternberg Crescent, Wanniassa on Monday morning.

ACT Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said there was far more toxic friable asbestos than he had expected in this property, which had been cleaned under the 1980s Commonwealth cleanup. 

Six bags, each slightly larger than a grocery bag, were half filled by abestos removalists in line with regulations. 

"Six bags is a lot of material," he said. "In cases there were big clumps of it sitting on the noggins in the wall cavity. That is trillions of fibres."

He said just a thimble full of the toxic carcinogen was highly dangerous, so this first pilot home's destruction reiteratied the immeasurable public health risk the 1022 homes posed.

"The risk is just not acceptable" he said.

Names and addresses of more than 1000  Mr Fluffy properties were leaked to a private communications company.
Names and addresses of more than 1000 Mr Fluffy properties were leaked to a private communications company. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"We need to get rid of these homes once and for all. This demolition process is the beginning of removing the physical scars on the community. We will be left with psychological and emotional issues for some people, but we can't leave these homes as onging timebombs destroying more people's lives." 

ACT Asbestos Taskforce head Andrew Kefford said while safety was the highest priority, the pilot program was also about feedback.

Neighbour Warren Fitzpatrick watches with a cuppa.
Neighbour Warren Fitzpatrick watches with a cuppa.  Photo: Jamila Toderas

"We have to do this at the moment another 860 more times [and likely more than 1000 eventually] and the more we can fine tune what we provide first up," he said.

"The key thing is now we can show as well as tell and I think that's really important for people who need to know and need to understand what to expect.

"We can give that reassurance and show people why they don't need to be troubled when it's going and that the machines really are only going to be here for a day."

Armed with a hot tea on the opposite side of the street, Warren Fitzpatrick said he was glad to see his suburb would soon be rid of the toxic legacy.

"They have to go and I'll be glad they're gone certainly," he said.

"It's been going for 40 minutes or so and we are down to the back wall. I am going to have a new view shortly to the Mr Fluffy house behind it."

Hearing the diggers crunching into the structure he felt comfortable after consultation from the ACT Asbestos Taskforce.

"We have been kept well informed," he said. "I don't think they could have done much better without camping on our front lawn."

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Kelly said there had been no express concerns raised with the directorate since the release of the full list of contaminated properties.

He said as there were no tests to demonstrate exposure it was important Mr Fluffy residents and former residents sought medical advice.

"It is a matter of understanding that may have occurred for residents of the houses and so therefore to look out for that later down the track," he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick said considering the proximity of his home to several contaminated homes he and his wife would seek a doctor's advice.

"I know asbestos can kill," he said. "I don't know all the ramifications so the next time I visit my doctor I will mention it and see what they say. My wife and I haven't discussed it properly but we might now after today."