CINews reported on comments made by National Environment Service (NES) director Joseph Brider, who said that a particulate assessment “undertaken by trained New Zealand professionals” at the Raromart site found a small quantity of asbestos “in one corner of the property”.
According to Brider, the amount of “asbestos and material potentially contaminated with asbestos was approximately 55kg.”
However, Carlaw said there was actually “very, very little asbestos” in his building.
“Some people are saying, ‘asbestos this, asbestos that’, but there was actually so little that it’s not a big issue,” said Carlaw.
“The only asbestos was in one pipe in one corner of the building.
“People might think it’s one whole corner of the building, but all the wall panels were asbestos-free, and the rest was concrete or wood or steel.”
Carlaw said samples taken from the wall panels were sent to New Zealand for testing and came back asbestos-free.
“We knew that anyway – it was on the product when we bought it.”
While the Raromart owner “can understand the concerns”, he said he didn’t think the public were aware of the true situation.
“It’s not like the Kia Orana Foods (building), or the roof at the weather station,” said Carlaw. “I mean, that’s a whole roof, it’s a major thing, and I can understand the safety concerns there. But for one pipe, you don’t need to go overboard with that – I’d do it myself if I had to.
“As far as I’m aware, the samples were sent to New Zealand, they all came back negative, no asbestos, other than one pipe. And that was located in one corner of the building.”
In the absence of director Brider this week, NES manager of the advisory and compliance division Vavia Tangatataia confirmed that the asbestos found at the Raromart site “was actually just a small amount”.
“It’s just four small rubbish bags,” he said. “It’s been secured in those bags and is sitting there, but it has to be removed from the site and taken away by (contractors) T&M Heather.”
Earlier in the week Brider told CINews that the asbestos would be disposed of “in accordance with the Cook Islands Asbestos Management Guidelines”.
“All waste in the area where asbestos was found was bagged and sealed and will be buried at the T&M asbestos site.
“Ongoing contamination of the site is expected to be minimal as the source of asbestos has been removed.”