More toxic materials found inside fourth Canberra school

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Richardson Primary School principal Anna Wilson addresses year 6 students in the school hall before any toxic particles were found. Picture: Facebook

ROUTINE maintenance work over the summer break on a Canberra school’s heating system has found dust that contained toxic lead particles.

Richardson Primary School is alarmingly now the fourth school in the ACT since July last year to be contaminated with a toxic material.

The disturbing discovery that had also been found in the school’s boiler room have flowed through the heating ducts that are connected to the library, hall and two of its classrooms.

Licensed assessors were called on to conduct tests to check had the lead dust flowed into other parts of the school.

The assessors have given the building the all clear before it was cleaned by specialists.

The affected heating system has been sealed and will not be used until “it is safe to do so”.

Specialists cleaners have been clearing toxic material from the ducts during school hours.

Richardson Primary principal Anna Wilson has expressed concern over the unexpected toxic discovery in a heartfelt letter to parents.

“I’d like to reassure families that the safety of our students, staff and the community is our highest priority,” she wrote.

“I know parents and carers may have questions about the works being done and about the presence of lead paint at our school.

“I am happy to talk with you about any concerns you might have.”

Parents can also contact the Education Directorate over any further concerns or issues.

Yarralumla Primary School was the first of the schools to have found unsafe levels of lead in its classrooms in July, forcing students to take lessons in hallways and the gym.

North Ainslie Primary School also had to close down a number of classrooms in September after removing lead dust caused from the replacement of lead-painted windows.

In the same month, Alfred Deakin High School, located in Woden, was found to have lead paint contamination in the school hall ceiling and floor.

The Canberra Liberals have slammed the latest revelation as a “major concern that needs to be addressed quickly”.

Shadow Minister for Education Jeremy Hanson has blamed the toxic contamination as a result of neglect since Labor and Greens have formed a coalition government.

Mr Hanson said students and staff “deserve schools that are safe”.

“Parents should be able to send their children to school with peace of mind that they will not be exposed to toxic material,” he said.

“The response from the government has been slow and inadequate.

“We continue to call on the Education Minister to immediately publish the full list of schools affected by lead paint and asbestos issues.”

The ACT government has been contacted for comment.

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