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Mr Fluffy's deadly asbestos legacy spread throughout Canberra

Date

Meredith Clisby

Brianna Heseltine and baby Marcus in their Weston home. She is the spokeswoman for the Fluffy owners and residents group,

Brianna Heseltine and baby Marcus in their Weston home. She is the spokeswoman for the Fluffy owners and residents group, Photo: Rohan Thomson

Deadly Mr Fluffy asbestos was spread throughout more than 70 Canberra suburbs in the 1970s and the scourge was concentrated most heavily in Curtin, Pearce and Kambah, new information shows.

The ACT government has for the first time revealed the full extent of the Mr Fluffy footprint across the territory.

The information has been provided to The Canberra Times following its appeal of the government’s decision not to release the full list of homes under Freedom of Information legislation.

The ACT government has now revealed the number of houses per suburb that were found to contain the deadly loose-fill amosite asbestos during the survey carried out in the late 1980s.

The data shows that there were at least 41 more homes on the list with Mr Fluffy asbestos than the 1049 that were remediated following the survey.

Data displayed above represents the number of houses per suburb affected, and does not reflect the actual locations of affected homes. 

A spokesperson for Workplace Safety Minister Simon Corbell said the list of houses had been taken from the list originally surveyed for loose-fill asbestos.

He said the list of 1049 houses relates to the number of houses that were identified for the purposes of the 2014 mail-out as having been part of the program.

“There are many reasons for possible discrepancies between the two numbers, including the demolition of some houses that were originally identified,” the spokesman said.

The suburb breakdown shows that Kambah, Curtin and Pearce had the highest number of Mr Fluffy homes in the territory.

There were 103 homes identified in the Tuggeranong suburb followed by 43 in Curtin and 40 in Pearce.

There were more than 30 Mr Fluffy homes discovered in the suburbs of Fisher, Farrer, Holder, Lyons, Torrens and Weston.

Just under 30 homes were found to contain the dormant danger in Chapman, Duffy, Flynn, Hackett, Melba and Rivett.

The loose-fill asbestos insulation scourge was discovered by assessors more than 30 years ago to have been pumped into ceilings in Belconnen, Weston Creek, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin as well as in inner-south and north Canberra.

Mr Fluffy was pumped into the ceilings of O’Malley, Red Hill and Forrest homes.

It was spread south as far as Tharwa and north as far as Hall, to Oaks Estate and Fyshwick and housing of the ANU.

The list shows that the homes pumped full of the deadly fibres are all over the territory and not only concentrated in the inner established areas.

The survey was conducted to determine how many homes would need to be remediated under the Loose Asbestos Insulation Removal Program, which was carried out between 1988 and 1993.

The federal government spent $100 million removing the insulation in 1049 homes determined to have the substance.

The ACT government wrote to the owners of these homes in February urging them to get an assessment done on the property as residual fibres could be present.

The vast majority of these assessments carried out since the warning have tested positive for remnant amosite within the walls and subfloors.

More than a dozen required the intervention of ACT WorkSafe for short or long-term lockdowns after the asbestos was found in living areas.

The ACT government has started to announce a series of actions it will take to address the concerns of the Mr Fluffy home owners and those who may come into contact with the homes.

This includes the announcement this week that all workers who might be exposed to asbestos complete training by September 30.

About 12,000 workers in more than 64 different occupations will be required to complete asbestos training.

An asbestos taskforce to assist the families affected has also been set up.

Workplace Safety Minister Simon Corbell has said that he does not consider the release of the addresses of Mr Fluffy homes to be the solution to identifying and managing risks associated with the houses in the program. 

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