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8 Mär 2018

Ben Doherty, The Guardian

Nauru refugees, asylum seekers and staff exposed to 'highly toxic' mould

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23 February 2018

Four years after the Australian government was repeatedly warned the mould growing throughout Nauru’s regional processing centres was making people sick, refugee families, including young children, are still being forced to live under rotting canvas in Nauru. At least 330 refugees and asylum seekers, including 36 children, still live in mould-prone tents on Nauru. Some tents and work buildings have previously been found to be “highly toxic”, with the level of mould measured at up to 76 times the normal, safe level... A class action against the commonwealth government, for failing in its duty of care to those housed in its immigration centres, and those contracted to work there, is being considered by Australian law firms...

In December 2014, Biological Health Services (BHS) was commissioned by the then detention centre managers, Transfield Services (now Broadspectrum), to investigate the extent and hazards of the mould problem. The mould was everywhere throughout the centre and a “MAJOR risk to the health and safety of the occupants”, the BHS report said... [A] further report from Greencap in 2015, told the immigration department that Transfield’s “harm minimisation” approach would not work. Transfield’s plan to tackle the mould was “highly unlikely to adequately rectify and prevent reoccurrence of the extensive moisture and mould issues” and “lacked an understanding in the fundamentals of accepted best practices”...

As late as December 2016, the government conceded to the Australian National Audit Office “mould is a persistent issue at the Nauru RPC”... A Comcare spokesman said the agency had been monitoring mould issues at the Nauru RPC, and had made inspections in 2014, 2015, and 2017... and [stated] that "the most recent site inspection in August 2017 found no significant issues.”... A contractor who lived in a water-damaged and mould-affected building made a complaint to Comcare in 2016. Its investigation found “ongoing measures were in place to deal with the problem of mould”...