HazMat was approached by the Government of Tokelau to assist in the safe clean up of asbestos cladding from a recently demolished building on their biggest island, Nukunonu.
The building had been guest accommodation for long term visitors to the island until it had become unsafe and was pulled down. We found out very quickly that this was not going to be an easy job. The Fibre Cement asbestos board covered an area of almost 300m.
Nukunonu is an island paradise but without an airport, seaport or many of the resources we take for granted in New Zealand, we had to think outside the box.
With the generosity of our major supplier ARENZ (Asbestos Removal Equipment New Zealand) we were able to pack a range of their excellent asbestos handling and safety products into a crate and ship it to the island ready to go.
In November, HazMat sent Chris to help with the clean up operation. It took a 4 hour flight to Samoa, followed by a 28 hour boat ride to get to Nukunonu, (YES, you read that right 28 hours) but the islands beauty certainly made up for the long trip.
After setting up a safe work area, Chris spent the next several days working in full PPE under a 35 degree sun picking up, bagging, sealing and labelling a huge amount of broken asbestos Fibre cement cladding from around the demolition site.
Working in with some of the locals, Chris was happy to assist with clearing up the majority of the non asbestos building waste from the site also, leaving the area looking cleaner, safer and nicer than it had before.
In his downtime, Chris was also able to meet with the local council officers and the Village Elders and provide education and advice on asbestos awareness along with some suggestions for permanent disposal of the asbestos he had safely collected.
After a visit to the School and handing out some awesome gifts to the students, it was time to pack up and start the long trip back home to NZ.
Tokelau was a fantastic opportunity for HazMat to use our skills and experience to help our Pacific neighbours in their time of need. We look forward to continuing our new-found friendship.