Amid growing concerns and news of three more sites in Queensland affected by asbestos during the rollout of the National Broadband Network, Telstra's CEO David Thodey has said that the telco had been managing the risk of asbestos within its network for many years.
As part of the contract with NBN Co, Telstra is responsible for repairs and maintenance of the cabling pits and ducts before NBN Co installs the new fibre-optic lines, a process named "remediation".
"We take our responsibility very seriously in looking after our employees and the community and our highest priority is their safety and peace of mind," Thodey said in a statement to the ASX on Monday.
Nationally, Telstra has 8 million cabling pits, though only about 60,000 pits involved with the NBN rollout are affected by asbestos. Due to the lack of records, the government has criticised Telstra for not knowing which sites are affected.
According to the Herald Sun, senior Telstra executives believe that re-checking remediation spots for asbestos could cost $50 million more than they had accounted for.
Government not impressed by Telstra
Workplace Minister Bill Shorten revealed under opposition pressure letters that were sent to Telstra in 2009 after being contacted by the Australian Workers Union.
The letters expressed his concerns about asbestos in Telstra's aging infrastructure.
According to the letters, Thodey had written back at the time: "(Given) the potential risks of removal, and the prohibitive associated costs, we do not believe that a pro-active pit removal process is justified at this time."
Shorten said that the government had accepted assurances by the telco that the issue was being handled before the NBN rollout began.
"Telstra wrote back and said they had the matter under control. We've seen in recent days and weeks that clearly they haven't," he said.
Via: Herald Sun
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