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March 15, 2018

Engineer Report: Prime Minister’s official residence has more asbestos than previously thought

The prime minister’s official residence has more asbestos in it than previously thought, according to a third-party review.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moved into government, he opted not to move his family into 24 Sussex — instead choosing Rideau Cottage over the drafty and deteriorating official residence that was his childhood home.

Seizing on the empty home, the National Capital Commission — the Crown corporation responsible for 24 Sussex’s upkeep — hired consultants to poke and prod the Confederation-era building ahead of any hoped-for renovations.

In 2015, the engineering firm Exp Services Inc. sent its investigators into the grounds’ main building, the pool house and the neighbouring RCMP building to survey for hazardous materials, including asbestos and lead paint.

The Exp specialists drilled into the plaster 15 times with a vacuum to extract samples. They were given past asbestos reports on the home as a starting point — but they noticed an error.

“Previous reporting identified the plaster within the building as being non-asbestos. However, sampling programs completed as part of the building assessment have demonstrated that grey coarse plaster within the building is asbestos-containing,” reads the report, obtained by CBC News through the Access to Information Act.

Asbestos has been condemned by the World Health Organization as a health threat and the once-common fireproofing material is now banned in some 50 countries around the world.

Canada was once a leading world supplier of the carcinogenic mineral. It’s linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that can develop in the lining of the lungs as a result of inhaling asbestos dust and fibres.

The stone mansion’s grey plaster “forms the majority of the walls/ceilings” of the main building, notes the report. Inspectors found that while the building’s white plaster didn’t contain asbestos, they felt it couldn’t be easily separated from the contaminated plaster.

Keep reading on CBC News


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