No restart date yet for Telstra NBN pit remediation

No restart date yet for Telstra NBN pit remediation

Summary: Full remediation work on Telstra's pits and ducts will not resume just yet, but the telco has begun accessing pits to repair vital services.

TOPICS: Telstra, Telcos, NBN

Telstra has said that it has no immediate plans to resume full work on its pits and ducts in the wake of concern over asbestos handling during remediation work in preparation for the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Telstra last month stopped all remediation work after there was community concern over the way that subcontractors were handling asbestos discovered in the pits and ducts in places such as Penrith and Ballarat.

The company announced that it would retrain all subcontractors in how to properly deal with asbestos, but at the time, CEO David Thodey could not say when work would resume on the remediation of the pits for NBN Co.

Telstra today announced the replacement and repair of pits for the provision of essential services.

"The works will be conducted by licensed removalists, and limited to restoration and repair work associated with incidents such as cable cuts leading to outages, loss of basic services, and emergency and medical priority assistance customers," the company said in a statement.

But a spokesperson for the company told ZDNet that it still has no date for when work will resume.

"We are still working through a range of issues, including training. Obviously, safety remains our number one consideration," a Telstra spokesperson said.

While the work is halted, a number of casual subcontractors are going unpaid. A caller to Triple J's Hack program on Tuesday said he was a contractor working on the pits in Perth, and had been off work for two months despite being a qualified asbestos remover.

Telstra said today that it is working closely with its contractors while the retraining is being conducted for all workers.

"We understand the impact that this is having on subcontractors, and we are working as quickly as possible through the issues, including retraining. Our priority throughout has been to ensure the safety of workers and the community," Telstra said.

Topics: Telstra, Telcos, NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Telstra. The private sector in Australia showing us just how efficient they are;-)
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • you forget those

      pits were installed by your favourite government entity ( Telecom Australia)
      Knowledge Expert
      • Now Telstra's responsibility. They know that. You should too;-)
        Hubert Cumberdale
  • These things take time

    It really doesn't matter if it's private enterprise or SOE's carrying out the work, training up a competent, national taskforce to fix this issue does take time, I think we need to give Telstra the benefit of the doubt here.

    Thinking that within a month the problem is scoped, analysed, staff retrained, problem resolved and work recommenced is at best naive but certainly unrealistic- it's a complex piece of work after all and the 'unknown unknown's' could potentially delay things further.

    It would be equally stupid to think that things like negotiations with an incumbent teleco, or the rollout of fiber to an entire country wouldn't also face the same issues, thus, it's important that there is accountability and transparency of issues when it's in the public interest, while at the same time being realistic and flexible enough with project timelines if these problems do crop up.
    • Don't forget

      Telecom had a operational remediation program with suitably trained and qualified personnel which Telstra discontinued back in the early 90's to cut costs and maximise profits,
      Come back to bite Telstra and it's shortsighted shareholders in the bum
      And delay the NBN, maybe always the delaying tactics were in anticipation of a LNP win which would result in Telstra and the LNP effectively destroying competition by establishing a insurmountable stranglehold
      Abel Adamski