The New Zealand Defence Force today welcomed a Ministry of Defence evaluation report on its management of asbestos.
The review looked at the NZ Defence Force’s approach to the use, management and storage of asbestos and products containing asbestos. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) evaluation concludes: “The NZ Defence Force has appropriate policies for the management and handling of asbestos, whether it is in building materials or in equipment componentry.”
Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, says the Ministry of Defence’s report is a useful evaluation of current NZDF policy and procedures to meet the Government’s legislative requirements for work place management of asbestos products.
“We welcome the report’s findings that the NZ Defence Force has the appropriate polices in place, however we acknowledge that further policy development is needed to align with the requirements of Hazardous Substances and Health and Safety legislation.
“The NZ Defence Force accepts the report’s recommendations and a number of actions have been taken, including measures to improve the identification and recording of items containing asbestos, utilising existing NZ Defence Force linkages with Australian Defence Force asbestos experts.”
The MoD found that while the NZ Defence Force has some inventory that contains asbestos, it is not regarded as a significant risk. There is no current New Zealand government policy or directive to remove asbestos containing materials.
However, for a number of years the Royal New Zealand Navy has adopted a deliberate policy of not buying components with asbestos; the New Zealand Army has removed asbestos brake linings, asbestos grinding disks and welding blankets from its inventory; and the Royal New Zealand Air Force believes it has no significant inventory lines which may contain asbestos.
The MoD evaluation report also confirms that, “the NZ Defence Force is aware of, and takes appropriate steps to mitigate the risk presented by legacy asbestos building materials”.
For example, a previously announced $7 million upgrade of ammunition storage facilities at Kauri Point includes the construction of new storage bunkers that will enable all old buildings to be demolished, removing legacy asbestos completely. The redevelopment expected to be completed by 2014.