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Fletcher shuts factory after asbestos find

Fletcher Building chief executive Mark Adamson. Photo / Dean Purcell
Fletcher Building chief executive Mark Adamson. Photo / Dean Purcell

Fletcher Building's Winstone Wallboards unit has temporarily closed a plasterboard factory in Christchurch after finding traces of asbestos in the building.

The company was told of the discovery yesterday by an external testing agency and has closed the entire site as a precautionary measure to allow for more testing, Fletcher said in a statement. It expects the results of the additional testing to be known this afternoon, with the plant up and running on Wednesday.

"The company is not aware of any related health symptoms, however as a precaution, health checks will be made available to employees and contractors," Winston Wallboards general manager David Thomas said. "It is understood the traces of asbestos originate from the roof and that those traces are likely to have been contained within the manufacturing building."

The subsidiary is a unit of Fletcher's building products division, which increased earnings 12 percent to $122 million in the year ended June 30 as New Zealand demand drove a 43 percent increase in plasterboard.

Winstone Wallboard's Auckland manufacturing facility will cover the suspended Christchurch operations, which may cause delays for South Island customers of between 24 and 48 hours. Staff and contractors are being asked to stay out of the affected area until further notice.

Fletcher's shares slipped 0.4 percent to $8.62 today, and have gained 3.1 percent this year.

- BusinessDesk

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