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WA hospital asbestos 'can be done safely'

AAP logoAAP 21/08/2016

The removal of asbestos sheeting from within roof panels at the new $1.2 billion Perth Children's Hospital can be done safely, WA Health Minister John Day says.

The asbestos was discovered almost six weeks ago and was blamed as a major reason the lead contractor, building company John Holland, missed the recent handover date.

Perth Children's Hospital © Provided by AAP Perth Children's Hospital

Removing the asbestos-riddled fibre cement boards from inside their galvanised iron shell - rather than completely replacing the panels - has been trialled, with consulting company Coffey concluding hazardous materials had been satisfactorily removed.

The CFMEU is concerned about the plan, saying it is too risky and the panels should be completely replaced.

"It seems to be built down to a price and not up to a standard," a union spokesman told AAP.

Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook agreed.

"We know the government are desperate to get this already delayed hospital open as a matter of urgency, but we are calling on the government today to do the job right," Mr Cook said.

"Don't try and do a patch-up job.

"We want to make sure that future generations of sick kids who will be accommodated in the building have got a proper facility."

But Mr Day said the state government was listening to expert advice that all 170 of the acoustic-dampening sheets could be safely removed, rather than replacing the panels entirely, which would leave part of the hospital temporarily without a roof.

"There has been a lot of effort and thoroughness put into trying to ensure this can be done in the safest way possible," Mr Day told reporters.

"We rely on the advice of professionals."

Mr Day rejected suggestions the chosen remediation method was about saving money, saying the Chinese company that provided the panels, Yuanda, was footing the cost.

He still hopes the hospital can open its doors to patients by December.

Mr Day has previously expressed disappointment in John Holland, which was originally expected to complete the building by the end of last year.

Since then, it has emerged the company installed 935 fire doors that may not comply with Australian standards and 450 metres of faulty water pipes, all of which it had to replace at its own cost.

The Nedlands facility will replace the ageing Princess Margaret Hospital for Children.

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