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Government to set up asbestos register

EVERY six days one Queenslander is diagnosed with terminal cancer because of asbestos exposure.

In an attempt to battle this alarming figure, which is tipped to rise, the Queensland Government is working towards setting up an asbestos register mapping out legal dumping reserves.

The Government has also sourced $1.5 million to fix high risk asbestos - about 6% of the state's total - in state-owned buildings, particularly schools.

Currently, local governments and the State Government spend tens of millions of dollars per year cleaning up illegally dumped asbestos.

On top of that, the Government spent $26 million last year on asbestos works, including removal projects and audits throughout government buildings.

Public Works and Housing Minister Bruce Flegg said Queensland had two million cubic metres of asbestos in public buildings.

"Currently, in Queensland, a new terminally ill asbestos patient is diagnosed every six days and that is increasing and will continue to increase in frequency for over a decade," he said.

"That is the nature of this dangerous and insidious substance.

"We have also seen over recent years the number of incidents in government buildings has increase significantly. We now have over 400 incidents - that is more than one every single day of the year."

Dr Flegg said a majority of works was completed at schools, a scary prospect for parents.

"Asbestos exposure in schools has been going on for some time and it is really frightening because there is no way of telling whether your child, teacher or workman, if they have inhaled asbestos fibres if...they may become airborne," he said.

"This is the great challenge for us with asbestos."

The State Government is also investigating placing labels on asbestos material in schools.

Dr Flegg said any asbestos removal program would increase the demand for legal dumps and prompted the urgency for a register.

"...as many of these asbestos buildings are getting old there is a rapidly growing need to be able to dump asbestos waste," he said.

"And let me tell you no one particularly wants to be the recipient of asbestos waste.

"One of the initiatives we want to get up is a register of the asbestos dumps and we need to increase the capacity of those dumps as I mentioned, we have million of cubic metres of this toxic substance.

Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam said the issue was particularly pertinent in rural and remote communities.

Topics:  asbestos, cancer, queensland government



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