Asbestos risk warning for Haʻapai schools

    PHOTO:  Children walk to school in Koulo Village on April 10, 2007 in Ha’apai, Tonga. Photo/ Amy Toensing/ Reportage by Getty Images. 

    The Tongan government has been warned that school children at Haʻapai primary schools could be at risk of asbestos contamination.

    Asbestos is a chemical that can create a health risk if the materials it contained were disturbed or broken up and fibres it made up with were released into the air.

    Lord Tuʻihaʻateiho warned Parliament last week reminding the Prime Minister some of the schools in Haʻapai had been previously identified that building materials used for their construction contained asbestos.

    He said he understood work was underway by US military personnel to clean and remove the hazardous materials in the northern islands and they were expected to come to Haʻapai.

    “I ask that if they come to Haʻapai let them look at [these schools] as it is very hazardous to school children’s life if they inhale it,” Lord Tuʻihaʻateiho said in Tongan.

    Government response

    The Minister of Health responded and said a project had been initiated this year by World Bank organisation to remove all asbestos contained materials in buildings in Haʻapai.

    The minister said such materials at government’s quarters in Hihifo, Haʻapai had been removed by replacing them with new roofs.

    He said he believed the primary schools were included in the World Bank’s project.

    Lord Tuʻihaʻateiho would not name the schools he said were at risk of asbestos contamination.

    Kaniva understands these schools were affected when Cyclone Ian struck the islands in 2014 leaving about 90 percent of the residents homeless.

    Asbestos

    Asbestos was banned in the late 1980s in New Zealand after it was recognised as causing cancer. Patients who suffered diseases caused by asbestos find them crippling, very painful and usually fatal.

    There are no known cures.

    The work to remove the fatal chemical requires specialist asbestos removal contractor and it is expensive.

    In May 2014 a Herne Bay school in Auckland was closed down for weeks before an investigation was underway to determine whether asbestos dust from a nearby building site where demolition and asbestos removal work was being carried out spread into the school compound.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Kuo fai ha fakatokanga ki he Puleʻanga Tongá ʻe malava ke matuʻutāmaki ʻa e fānau lautohi puleʻanga Haʻapaí ʻi he kona ʻo e kemikale ʻasipesitosí.
      Ko e ʻasipesitosí ko ha kemikale ʻoku lava ke fakatuʻutāmaki ki he moʻuí kapau ʻe ueʻi ʻa e nāunau langa ne ngaohiʻakí ʻo iku ke homo atu ai ki tuʻa ʻa e efuefuʻi faipa ne faʻuʻakí ki he ʻeá.

      Ne fakatokanga ʻa Looti Tuʻihaʻateiho ki he Fale Aleá ʻi he uike kuo ʻosí ʻo ne fakamanatu ki he Palēmiá ko e niʻihi ʻo e ngaahi ako ʻi Haʻapaí ne ʻosi fakamahino ki muʻa ʻoku ʻi ai ʻa e ʻasipesitosi ʻi he nāunau ne langaʻakí

      Ne ne meʻa ʻo pehē ne ne meaʻi pe ʻoku lolotonga fai ʻa e ngāue ʻe ha kau ngāue mei he vaʻa fakakautau ʻa ʻAmeliká ke toʻo ʻa e ʻasipesitosi ʻi he ʻotu motu tokelaú pea te nau aʻu mai ai ki Haʻapai.

      “Ko ‘eku kole pē ‘aʻaku ia kapau te nau ‘ahia ‘a Haʻapaí ke kātaki muʻa ‘o sio atu ki he meʻa ko ia he ‘oku fakatuʻutāmaki ‘aupito ia ki he fānau ako [ka nau ka] mānava e fa’ahinga me’a ko eni” ko e meʻa ia ʻa Looti Tuʻuhaʻateiho ki he Falé.

      Ne tali ki heni ʻa e ʻEiki Minisitā ki he Moʻuí ʻo ne pehē ne ʻi ai ʻa e polōseki ʻa e Pangikē ʻa Māmaní ne kamataʻi he taʻú ni ke toʻo ʻa e ngaahi nāunau langa fale ʻoku ʻi ai ʻa e ʻasipesitosí ʻi Haʻapaí.

      Ne pehē ʻe he ministaá ko e ngaahi nāunau pehē ʻi he kuata ko ia ʻo e puleʻangá ʻi Hihifo, Haʻapaí ne ʻosi toʻo kotoa ia ʻaki hano fakafoʻou ʻo e ʻató.

      Ne ne pehē ʻoku tui ʻoku kau ai ʻa e ngaahi akó ʻi he polōseki ko ʻení.

      Naʻe ʻikai foki ke fakahingoa mahino mai ʻe he Tuʻihaʻateihó pe ko e fē fua e ngaahi ako ko ʻeni ne ne ʻuhinga ki aí.

      ʻOku mahino ki he ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ko e niʻihi ʻeni ʻo e ngaahi ako ne uesia ʻe he saikolone ʻIení ʻi he 2014.

      Naʻe taʻofi ʻa e ʻasipesitosí ʻi Nuʻu Silá ni ʻi he ngaahi taʻu mai 1980 hili ia hono fakatokangaʻi ʻokú ne fakatupunga ʻa e mahaki kanisaá.

      Ko kinautolu kau mahaki ne nau maʻu ʻa e ngaahi mahaki fakatupu ʻe he ʻasipesitosí ʻoku ʻikai ke nau toe lava tuʻu, felaangaaki lahi pea iku ki he mate.

      ʻOku ʻikai maʻu hano faitoʻo ʻo e mahaki ko iá.

      Ko e ngāue ki hono toʻo ʻo e kemikale fakamate ko ʻení ʻoku fiemaʻu ki ai ʻa e kakai makehe pe ia kuo ʻosi akoʻi ki he faʻahinga ngāue ko iá pea ʻoku mamafa hono totongí.

      ʻI Mē 2014 ne tāpuni ai ha ʻapiako ʻi Herne Bay ʻi ʻAokalani ʻi ha lau uike ki muʻa pea fai ha fakatotolo ke ʻilo pe ne kappa ʻe ha efuʻi ʻasipesitosi ʻa e ʻapiakó ni ʻi ha tui ne aʻu mai ki ai ha efuefu mei ha holoki fale ʻi ha feituʻu ofi pe he ʻapiakó ni.

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