Reservoir mum still waiting for answers from Telstra on nature strip asbestos

TELSTRA still can't explain how pieces of asbestos came to be on a Reservoir nature strip, more than two months after they were removed.

The telecommunications body has also failed to send a promised occupational hygienist to visit a mother who touched the "non-friable bonded asbestos" to discuss risks of exposure.

Telstra said until a "key employee" returned from overseas it wouldn't be able to determine how or why the material from a telecommunications pit came to rest on the nature strip in Darebin Blvd. Telstra removed the material on June 7.

Julie Novak said she used her hands to move the two pieces of material, which sat on the nature strip near a Telstra pit outside her home. Her husband also picked up the substance.

In a written statement on June 30, Telstra spokesman Scott Whiffin said it was "arranging for an occupational hygienist to meet the resident to discuss the incident and small risk of exposure".

Six weeks later, this had not yet occurred. Last week a different Telstra spokesman, James Howe, said: "We did not believe that there was a request to meet with the hygienist, however they are able to visit Ms Novak if [the resident] wishes".

Mr Howe said it had yet to find records of works on the Darebin Blvd pit, or who was responsible for the incident.
Asbestos Wise chief executive Josh Fergeus said bonded asbestos was unlikely to release potentially deadly fibres, however the risk grew if the material was broken up or disturbed.

He said while Ms Novak's exposure was "very low level", she could place herself on the asbestos exposure register for peace of mind.

Posted Tuesday 20th August 2013
Herald Sun