Ateco Automotive, importers of Great Wall and Chery, will not be recalling Chinese car models already with owners, after the vehicles were found to contain asbestos in their gaskets.
The gaskets will stay where they are unless drivers request that they are removed. Consumers will be sent a letter from Ateco and a risk assessment from consultants Hibbs & Associates – stating the negligible health risk to drivers and passengers. The Chinese car-makers have found an alternative supplier from which they are now sourcing asbestos-free gaskets.
The AMWU called for an investigation into how the cars got into Australia. “What is the government going to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?” said Paul Bastian, the AMWU national secretary, to the ABC.
Ateco worked with ACCC and WorkCover to come to a decision. The company conceded the publicity would not assist the brands’ image. “I wouldn’t think it would be helpful,” admitted Daniel Cotterill, the spokesman for Ateco, told The Daily Telegraph.
Cotterill says that a written assurance that the cars were asbestos-free was given by the manufacturers.
A Great Wall spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that many Chinese car makers use gaskets that contain asbestos.
Bastian has called for legal action to be taken, telling the Sydney Morning Herald. “We call on prosecutions to be served on anyone who imports asbestos into Australia.”
Abestos has been banned from cars in this country since 2004.