RÖSSING Uranium, in collaboration with the Arandis Town Council, is currently replacing asbestos roofs at the town with alu-zinc (aluminium-zinc) ones and according to Irene Jacobs, Communications Officer at the Town Council, the project is well on track.
Jacobs noted that 44 of the total 823 properties (houses, schools and other structures) have had asbestos roof replaced to date, with an average eight roofs tackled per week.
The N$28 million project kicked off in June 2018 and is phased over a period of three years. Jacobs said home owners had so far showed gratitude and co-operation on the implementation of the project.
With the replacement of the asbestos roofs taking two to three days per house, the Arandis Town Council undertook to make temporary accommodation available for effected residents, while work is being done on their roofs.
This measure was taken after a study which was conducted during 2004 by Rössing to identify the risks regarding possible mine closure, and asbestos was identified as a risk. In 2017 a re-assessment was done and after the parties involved signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the project re-commenced in February 2018 with work on the roofs of affected properties being the main activity.
All asbestos-containing material collected in the project is placed in sealed containers for disposal at the hazardous waste dumping site at Walvis Bay.
Jacobs explained that asbestos is not hazardous if it is handled correctly. In most cases asbestos is present, but not disrupted. Leaving asbestos material undisturbed is the safest way for people not to be exposed to the material, it was clarified. Furthermore, asbestos-related lung disease results only from intense asbestos exposure experienced over a period of many years.
The Arandis Town Council is the first town in Namibia to undertake such a roof upgrade programme for houses and buildings and the Council has since issued a by-law that regulates the use of asbestos in Arandis.
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