ABF executes warrants over potential asbestos importations

On the 19th July, the Australian Border Force (ABF) executed several warrants in response to recent detection of asbestos in imported building materials.

The warrants, relating to suspected illegal imports of Chinese building products containing asbestos, involved Yuanda Australia.

As part of this activity, ABF investigators seized digital and physical evidence.

The company has also been notified that all goods imported by the company and its affiliates will be held at the border until it is confirmed the goods have been tested by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory and no asbestos contamination is present.

It is the responsibility of importers to ensure that their goods do not contain asbestos.

Yuanda Australia has been cooperative throughout this process and the ABF will continue to engage with the company, its suppliers and customers to ensure all products entering Australia comply with our strict import ban on asbestos.

Australia is one of a few countries that has a ban on asbestos imports. Since the ABF was stood up on 1 July 2015, it has increased its operational focus on preventing asbestos imports from entering Australia. This has resulted in an increased number of detections and seizures of imports containing asbestos in 2015-16 compared to 2014-15.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection continues to work closely with the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) and the Imported Materials with Asbestos Working Group established by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) to prevent asbestos imports entering the country.

This latest action follows a meeting of the HWSA Working Group last week, where the Rapid Response Protocol (RRP) was invoked.

The RRP enables information about an incident to be shared across relevant government agencies, ensuring a nationally uniform response.

Stopping dangerous goods, before or at the border, is a priority for the ABF. But with ever-increasing volumes of goods crossing our border, it must balance this enforcement role with facilitating legitimate trade.

The ABF is targeting importers that illegally import asbestos.

Offences relating to asbestos can attract fines of up to $180,000 or three times the value of the goods, whichever is the greater. Companies can face fines up to $900,000.