Swakopmund wants to be asbestos-free

The Swakopmund Town Council has taken the decision to remove all asbestos from buildings and structures. Council intends to make N$250 000 available for the 2018/19 operational budget for the sole purpose of identifying asbestos “hot spots” in the holiday town and the removal thereof.
The decision to make Swakopmund asbestos-free was taken at the last council meeting for 2017 held at the end of November. In the minutes it states although many products manufactured nowadays do not contain asbestos, it is still likely to find asbestos containing materials in older building structures.
Asbestos has been classified as a cancer- and lung disease producing agent. It was a popular insulator and has been used for construction purposes, especially as a roofing material. Improper handling, removal or renovations of structures containing asbestos may give rise to the release of very fine fibers which can remain airborne for a lengthy period.
Once these fibers are inhaled they can remain in the body for many years, increasing the risk of developing cancers: cancer of the lung tissue and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs.
“Normally, it is expected that residents have to consult an approved inspection authority (AIA) to confirm the presence of asbestos and once confirmed to arrange for the safe removal, storage and transportation of asbestos material from their properties”, it states in the minutes; and: “The added cost involved is mostly high and unexpected for residents and they may be tempted to do alterations or renovations on their properties without following legal requirements.”
In an effort to comply with governmental requirements and minimize employee exposure, controls are necessary wherever there is a potential for exposure to airborne fibers.
While considering the above Council decided to take drastic measures to minimize the availability of asbestos in the holiday town. These measures include the formulation of a policy that aims to ban the import of any materials with traces of asbestos.
Furthermore, council decided to budget an amount of N$250 000 in the 2018/19 operational budget for the “mapping of the town for the purpose of identifying asbestos ‘hot spots’ and the removal thereof.” Council intends to invite bids from suitable qualified and occupational hygienists to enter into a two years agreement to collect and analyse samples and oversee the removal, storage and transportation of asbestos waste to the Hazardous Waste Landfill Site in Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay’s landfill has a hazardous storage area which include the safe and environmental accountable disposal of asbestos.
The municipality intends to hold public meetings to sensitize the community regarding the health hazard posed by airborne asbestos fibers released from asbestos-containing building materials like roof sheets.

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