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Update about asbestos in the Garden Route

An Accredited Asbestos Inspection Authority was appointed by Eden District Municipality to assess all the 1197 confirmed structures that were destroyed or damaged by the recent fire disaster in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether the affected structures contain any asbestos containing materials, and if so, the approximate quantity thereof. Thus far, 511 structures have been assessed and asbestos containing materials were identified at approximately 50% of these assessed structures.

The process to commence with the assessment of the remaining approximate 680 structures will be finalised by next week. The identification of the specific sites and volume determination will enable the appointment of a Registered Asbestos Contractor, registered with the Department of Labour, to collect, handle, transport and dispose of the asbestos containing material at a licensed hazardous waste site in accordance with the Asbestos Regulations, 2011, and the Waste Management Act, Act No. 59 of 2008. Funds are currently being applied for from the Disaster Fund for the safe removal of the asbestos containing materials.

Eden District Municipality is in the process to appoint a service provider to monitor the ambient asbestos air quality to determine whether any residents are exposed to any asbestos fibres.

All asbestos is hazardous and can potentially pose a risk to human health. In order to prevent any risk, it is essential that no asbestos containing material is collected, handled, transported and disposed of by any person or contractor other than a registered asbestos contractor who is registered with the Department of Labour.

Knysna Municipality is monitoring the construction rubble sites on a regular basis and sending samples of the rubble for analysis, in order to determine whether asbestos is being illegally disposed of.

The most common asbestos containing material is asbestos cement products that were used to make roofing material, ceiling and floor tiles, insulation and water pipes, tanks and gutters for example.

The following should be taken into consideration should asbestos contamination be suspected:

  • Don’t disturb soil contaminated with asbestos.
  • Never ever create dust in an environment that is either known or may have asbestos contamination. Never grind, sand, file or smash material that may be a part of an asbestos product.
  • Don’t dig in potentially asbestos contaminated areas.