The asbestos locomotives

3 News reports:

At least two of KiwiRail’s Chinese-made locomotives are so badly contaminated with asbestos they will have to be quarantined, parliament has been told.

KiwiRail on Friday said asbestos was found in the soundproofing compound used in 40 DL locomotives.

Some freight services were cancelled over the weekend while further tests were carried out.

In Parliament today Labour’s transport spokeswoman, Darien Fenton, asked Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee whether he still had confidence in KiwiRail.

He said he did.

“When the locomotives were manufactured, assurances were sought that no asbestos would be used and those assurances were given,” he said.

“Those assurances have turned out to be incorrect.”

Mr Brownlee said the locomotives wouldn’t be used until KiwiRail was completely satisfied there were no health risks to employees or the public.

This really is appalling. It is unclear how much fault lies with KiwiRail, but shouldn’t testing have been done, rather than rely on assurances? And I hope the contract is watertight so the manufacturers are liable for all costs, including business interruption.

It does also raise the question about whether the Chinese company was the right supplier. What was their track record?

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