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Slater and Gordon is concerned Latrobe City Council’s refusal to store asbestos from the closed Morwell Power Station in a secure cell at the site, could endanger the health of thousands of Victorians.

Last night’s decision could lead to up to 15,000 cubic tons of the disturbed and deadly material being transported across the state, potentially impacting communities along the way.

For more than three decades Senior Slater and Gordon Asbestos lawyer Stephen Plunkett has represented thousands of people who were exposed to the substance at the Latrobe Valley power station.

Mr Plunkett said the council’s decision to send the asbestos to Bulla in Melbourne’s west – most likely through densely populated areas – posed serious health risks to communities along the almost 200km route.

He said the council had the power to safely dispose of between 10,000 and 15,000 cubic metres of class A and B asbestos in Morwell by developing a safe cell at the power station site.

“I share concerns from other groups, including the Asbestos Council of Victoria, that moving the asbestos in its most dangerous state about 180km through the heart of Melbourne, is not the safest decision,” Mr Plunkett said.

“While the thought of storing large amounts of asbestos in Morwell might appear to be unnerving, if constructed correctly, a local cell should result in absolutely no risk to local residents.

“When it comes to disposing of asbestos, everything needs to be done to ensure it is done as safely as possible and in my opinion, sending the asbestos to Melbourne is not the safest option.”

Mr Plunkett said once asbestos fibres were disturbed they posed serious health risks to anyone who inhaled loose fibres.

He said exposure to these fibres could result in a list of conditions, including extremely fatal cancer mesothelioma, which often takes decades to show symptoms. Asbestos exposure can also result in lung cancer, asbestosis and plural plaques.

“We now understand how dangerous this substance can be if not handled in the correct way,” Mr Plunkett said.

“Not only to those directly exposed but also to their loved ones who can also get sick if they come into contact with fibres on the exposed person’s clothes.

“In 2018, we should not be taking any chances with this material.”

The Morwell Power Station, which is owned by Energy Brix Australia Corporation, was closed in 2014.

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