There were no warning signs on the Mackay streets where asbestos pipes were cut and left open.
There were no warning signs on the Mackay streets where asbestos pipes were cut and left open.

No word on asbestos breach

TELSTRA and the NBN Co are remaining tight-lipped on investigations into a breach of asbestos handling after the Mackay community was exposed to the hazardous material for almost a week during NBN works on Victoria Street.

A Telstra spokesman said he could not provide details of the breach.

"The circumstances sound quite concerning and we're conducting an investigation. At this stage we believe it was a sewerage pipe that was cut.

"We've set up a hotline for any residents with concerns about work in their area - that number is 1800 067 225."

NBN Co did not return the Daily Mercury's calls for comment before the paper went to print.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the Gillard Government had been unable to respond when asked yesterday how many residents were exposed to deadly asbestos left at the Victoria St site for five days.

Mr Christensen questioned Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten in Federal Parliament yesterday.

He said Mr Shorten admitted the danger the Mackay public had been exposed to was unacceptable, saying he would follow up on the incident and provide a report on the extent of the problem.

Asbestos Related Disease Support Society Queensland secretary Raymond Colbert knows only too well the devastating illnesses associated with exposure to the deadly material.

Mr Colbert was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2002 after he was exposed while serving in the Royal Australian Navy, and described it as a "hideous disease".

"I wasn't surprised when I heard about this recent breach (in Mackay)," he said.

"Every day of the week there is asbestos removal taking place where people are getting quite badly contaminated.

"There is no nationally accredited training program for asbestos removal."

He labelled the botched removal job on Victoria St as "cost cutting".



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