Nearly 23,000 cars made in China are being recalled in Australia after asbestos, a prohibited hazardous substance, was found in the engine and exhaust gaskets, authorities said on Wednesday.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that it was monitoring the recall of approximately 23,000 Great Wall and Chery motor vehicles with engine and exhaust gaskets containing asbestos.
The asbestos is bound into gaskets in the engine and exhaust system and does not present any risk to consumers during use of the vehicle. However, consumers should not perform do-it-yourself maintenance that might disturb these gaskets, a statement from the ACCC said.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said, “Asbestos is a prohibited hazardous substance and these engines and exhaust systems should only be worked on by qualified personnel using appropriate safety procedures.”
“All affected consumers will be contacted directly by Great Wall and Chery. In addition, they will provide training, warning stickers and safety advice to repairers. The ACCC will monitor the recall and Workplace Health and Safety Authorities will monitor the workplace safety issues,” she said.
Meanwhile, car importer Ateco Automotive has asked owners to return the cars to their dealership.
“We’ll be writing to all owners very soon to explain the situation for their specific vehicle,” Daniel Cotterill from Ateco Automotive was quoted as saying by ABC News.
Australia has banned the import of asbestos into the country since 2004.
The recall of China-made cars has prompted the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) to demand an investigation into how thousands of cars containing asbestos came to be imported into the country.
AMWU national secretary Paul Bastian says it is unacceptable these vehicles were allowed into Australia and the manufacturer should be prosecuted.
“What is the Government and customs going to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?” he said.
“At the very least there needs to be prosecution of those who are found to import products or components containing asbestos in breach of our regulations.”