Cosatu threatens law suit against De Lille over asbestos exposure


Cosatu threatens law suit against De Lille over asbestos exposure

Petru Saal | 2017-02-08 17:33:17.0

Democratic Alliance’s Patricia de Lille. File photo

Image by: Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Peter Mogaki

In an open letter to Mayor Patricia De Lille and Cape Town City Manager Achmat Ebrahim‚ Coosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich claims that the City did not follow the correct procedure in removing and dumping asbestos at Athlone Power Station.

“This asbestos that is present in the City of Cape Town’s older buildings has already poisoned and killed the workers at Athlone power station‚” says Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich says that the City refused to assist the Athlone Power Station workers who are continually being exposed to asbestos.

“The procedures for working with asbestos are not complied with‚ to the detriment of workers” says Eherenreich.

He claims that the City has incorrectly removed and handled the asbestos as a cost saving measure and that the City and construction companies are in fact in cahoots.

“This exposure of workers is just a result of the cost saving from the side of the Council and the construction companies‚ to properly process the asbestos. The interest of construction company owners and savings to the Council is much more important to De Lille than the lives of the poor black workers.”

Ehrenrech says that Cosatu will be taking legal action should the mayor not meet their demands by February 14.

“That she undertakes to send all persons affected by the non compliance of procedure‚ to guard against exposure to asbestos for tests. That the Mayor ensures treatment and compensation for all those affected by asbestos; as a result of her neglect to follow procedures. That the Mayor undertakes to comply with the demands … failing which the class action will be launched.”

The City of Cape Town‚ however‚ has refuted the claims made by Cosatu‚ saying that anyone with information of procedures not being followed in the removal and dumping of asbestos should come forward.

“The City of Cape Town is deeply concerned that‚ if Cosatu does indeed have information on breaches of asbestos demolition and disposal regulations‚ they have not reported this directly to the Department of Labour or the approved asbestos inspection authority. This‚ rather than threats against the City‚ would be in the best interests of the workers who have allegedly been affected‚” says Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Service‚ Councillor Raelene Arendse.

The City also says that claims that asbestos is still lingering in the air and water supply is incorrect.

“Some older water and sewerage reticulation systems still convey water and sewerage in fibre cement pipe infrastructure that may contain asbestos. Research conducted by the World Health Organisation has‚ however‚ demonstrated that drinking water that is conveyed in asbestos-containing fibre cement water pipes does not pose a risk to the health of the end users‚” says Arendse.

The City has also implemented an asbestosis programme where former and current workers of the Athlone Power Station are monitored and screened yearly for their exposure to asbestos.

“The removal and disposal of the asbestos at the Athlone Power Station was done in strict accordance with the asbestos regulations by a certified asbestos removal and disposal company. The work was carried out under the auspices of an approved inspection authority which monitored the entire process. This would equally apply to the removal of asbestosis material at any City-owned building.”

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