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Earthquake Commission refuses to reveal abestos info

Thursday 10 Jan 2013 6:00 p.m.

The Earthquake Commission is refusing to reveal which homes that it has repaired following the Christchurch quakes contain asbestos.

Christchurch health authorities are worried asbestos has been covered up instead of being removed, and it's calling for a public register.

“There could be hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes now where asbestos is concealed and future owners will not know it is there,” says Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey.

The Canterbury District Health Board is at odds with EQC over releasing the locations of houses where asbestos is found and covered up by jib board, rather than removed.

“We keep a record of homes that we have repaired that asbestos has been present, but there is not a publicly consumable register kept by EQC,” says EQC Canterbury home repair programme manager Reid Stiven.

Forty thousand homes built between the 1940s and 1980s contain asbestos and the dangers are well-known.

“The problem with asbestos is that it is an insidious disease. It damages your lungs but you don't often see the damage until decades later,” says Dr Humphrey.

EQC is responsible for repairs to 114,000 homes; 30,000 have been completed and they have no plans to change the way they do things.

“We are very confident in our approach,” says Mr Stiven.

The two parties will meet tomorrow to discuss the issues raised about asbestos, but EQC say it is not their responsibility to develop a register, nor will they release the private information.

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