ASBESTOS concerns have forced Timboon’s school to close more than a decade after a report recommended asbestos removal.
Two WorkSafe inspectors visited Timboon P-12 School this week to inspect the junior grades’ building eaves, after WorkSafe received a call about “asbestos and other general safety” issues.
The inspectors identified “several safety concerns”, including exposed asbestos and suspected peeling lead-based paint, and slapped a prohibition notice on the school.
Timboon P-12 School principal Rosalie Moorfield said the school evacuated students to Timboon’s town hall immediately after receiving the notice.
Mrs Moorfield said the inspectors mentioned the 2002 report to her after they closed the school on Monday.
“They referenced it and they still found what they considered to be asbestos in some of those areas, even though I was under the belief the asbestos had been removed,” she said.
“When WorkSafe visited they found other asbestos they immediately had other concerns
Mrs Moorfield said she had asked for a new asbestos report “numerous” times since she became principal in 2009, but authorities had failed to act on her requests.
Overnight air tests have found the school had no dangerous levels of airborne asbestos and investigations into the paint are continuing.
The school’s VCE classes will continue from a community health centre, and other students unable to find alternative arrangements during the closure can attend classes at the town hall.
Mrs Moorfield said classes would resume in term three, although the classes might be in other Timboon venues.
School council spokesman Matt Bowker said he was unsure why the state education department had failed to act on the 2002 report.
“It’s a case of things that haven’t been done that should’ve been done,” Mr Bowker said.
“The school’s not at fault, the department’s probably not at fault either,” he said.
The school community has been campaigning the State Government for new buildings for more than a decade.
Mr Bowker said that although the redevelopment and asbestos issues were separate, the school could have avoided this week’s drama if it had new buildings.
“If the school had new buildings funded then it wouldn’t have been an issue,” he said.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development failed to respond before the Colac Herald went to print.