Wagga’s newly elected independent MP Dr Joe McGirr has aired concerns that staff and students at Kooringal High School may have been exposed to asbestos.
During its recent redevelopment, pockets of the substance may have been disturbed, Dr McGirr said.
Speaking in the NSW Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, Dr McGirr read an email from one of the school’s 850 students.
“I have heard consistently that our school is safe, however new areas are always being blocked off after they are deemed to be ridden with exposed asbestos that is not being properly sealed. Some cracks have been sealed with black tape,” the student wrote.
Dr McGirr cited correspondence with the Minister for Education stating that the asbestos is scheduled to be removed during the school break in December.
“But I have reports from parents saying that they were told it would be removed last holidays, and it was not,” Dr McGirr told the house.
“I am concerned that it will be delayed again, and in the meantime I wonder if duct tape covering exposed fibres is considered appropriate containment.”
Suggestions of the substance’s presence has circulated the school community for months. But Glenn Elliott-Rudder, who has a daughter in year 10 at the school, is not convinced there anything more than idle rumours.
“It’s possible it’s been a little bit blown out of proportion,” said Mr Elliott-Rudder.
“Some have said that maybe the school hasn’t done all it should have, but I’d be confident they’re taking the appropriate actions.
“If they’re not, well, they’d be pretty foolish knowing what we know now about asbestos.”
Returning to parliament on Wednesday, Dr McGirr angled his question directly to Rob Stokes, the NSW Minister for Education.
“I have made my own investigations into the matter, and I am satisfied that this is being dealt with appropriately,” Mr Stokes responded.
“Particularly when damage is reported, immediate action is undertaken. I’m advised that that was the case in relation to Kooringal.”
A NSW Department of Education spokesman said: “the presence of asbestos-containing material at a school does not automatically mean that health is at a risk.
“In the case of Kooringal High School, the department has contained the asbestos, and there is no risk to the school community.”