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OPINION: Getting stuck into it

I GREW up on a dairy farm in the northwestern suburbs of Sydney, and yes; thank you for pointing out if we'd kept our hundred acres they'd be worth about a gazillion dollars now. Hindsight makes everyone a genius.

We had a long dirt driveway, maybe a kilometre, that wound its lazy way up a hill; rather memorably my dad once set fire to some blackberry bushes at the base of that hill in the middle of a drought.

Dad was prone to doing things like that; he once insisted on clearing the long grass from the vacant block next door to my brother's first house with the help of a can of mower fuel and a match.

All well and good except when the wind changed and pushed the flames toward the just-finished-that-day house, it nearly ended in tears when the family firebug ran for the hose only to discover the water hadn't been connected yet.

But I digress.

That driveway, as farm accesses often do, suffered from an overload of cow poo, mud and traffic so twice a year Dad would make a phone call and three or four tip trucks would arrive and dump a few loads of dry fill to help form a roadbase.

We drove back and forth on it every day with the windows down (no air conditioning back then) and, when we were bored, my sister and I would go and sit in the grass nearby and play with the long silky pale-blue fibres, pulling them apart and building little piles with them.

It was only later that we found out Dad had been buying asbestos tailings. Well then.

Fast forward a few years and I am facing a major bathroom renovation in the house I bought earlier this year.

It was built in the mid-80s, an era not known for its good design; thus the red acrylic bath I have mentioned here previously is to be ripped out, along with the ruined vanity (apparently 80s plumbing wasn't too flash either) and the clunky sliding shower screen.

While gathering quotes I was a bit distressed when a tradie knocked knowingly on the bathroom wall and said, "there'll be asbestos in that, you know."

No, I didn't.

Thus it was I found myself kitted out in safety goggles, P3 mask and latex gloves while I attempted to remove a portion of the wall to be tested.

Following the instructions I found on the internet yielded not a scrap; after hours of frustration I dropped my bundle and whacked it with a hammer, then attacked the hole with a pair of pliers in a cloud of dust.

Not quite what the experts suggested.

Happily the test came back negative.

I'm sure my father would have approved.

Topics:  asbestos opinion


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