Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) property manager Anne Taoro said up to seven days were allowed for the project, depending on the weather – very wet weather can make it dangerous for the workers removing the roof.
But contractor Landholdings Ltd had the roof – which was made partly from asbestos – down in less than a day, with some clean-up work still to go.
Foreman James Atera, who has been with the company 18 years, said the 17 workers began removing the roof at around 5.30am, and had it down by the middle of the day. They spent the afternoon packing the material into containers and clearing up some of the debris.
Cook Islands Investment Corporation construction manager Danny Numa said the workers will be back on the site today to finish cleaning it up.
Workers used what is called ‘wet removal’ – where the material is sprayed with water before being removed, so that asbestos particles are unlikely to become airborne.
Atera said although a lot of rain would have halted the project, the brief shower late morning yesterday was helpful in keeping dust at bay.
Taoro said the building is being cleaned out for health and safety reasons.
“It’s old, there’s wear and tear, mosquitos are breeding in there. It’s got to come down.”
The concrete walls and beams of the building will remain, with the property likely to be used for storage.
A nearby area has been set aside for an accommodation unit to be used by workers coming from China for Te Mato Vai in the future – who Taoro said have also expressed an interest in using some of the storage space in the building that is currently being cleaned out.
The asbestos will be packed into a container, with Taoro saying it may be disposed of by shipping it to New Zealand.