14 June 2018
Preparations to put a new roof on one of the historical hangars at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch to safeguard the museum’s collection have detected minor traces of asbestos in dust beneath a small area of the existing corrugated iron roof.
However, New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Estate and Infrastructure Project Leader (Southern) Roger Forde said from extensive testing the NZDF has confirmed that the museum was safe to occupy for members of the public, visitors and staff who work there.
“Monitoring and investigations of the museum over several months have shown concentrations of asbestos in air to be ‘below the detection limit’ for asbestos,” Mr Forde said.
“We are confident that the control measures that will be in place during the removal will protect human health and are consistent with current regulations. Ongoing air monitoring is taking place and will continue throughout the project and at completion to ensure the control measures put in place are effective.”
Work on removing the asbestos was being undertaken by qualified and experienced contractors and under observation by an independent asbestos consultancy, Mr Forde said.
Non-asbestos work on the hangar roof has already started and will be completed over the next six weeks. The asbestos-removal component, which will start later this month, makes up a comparatively small part of the project.
There might be occasions when the hangar will be closed to the public but the rest of the museum will be open throughout the re-roofing project.
Air Force Museum Deputy Director Wing Commander Brett Marshall said the re-roofing would provide the hangar with a long-life, insulated roof with seamless fixings.
“The refurbishment work at the museum is critical to preserving our valuable Air Force history and heritage,” Wing Commander Marshall said.
Re-roofing a building the size of an aircraft hangar is not a small job. The large and complex job will include 42-metre long sheets of metal being roll-formed on site, using a machine shipped from Australia. It is the only roll-forming machine in service in Australasia and South-East Asia and will be used in the South Island for the first time.
Residents surrounding the museum and visitors will see contractors working on the roof in protective equipment and respirators that meet the requirements of the WorkSafe New Zealand Approved Code of Practice for asbestos. They may also be seen wearing this equipment to protect against other hazards not related to asbestos.
The NZDF removal plan ensures that all requirements are met in line with the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016, which includes keeping people safe.