Ateco today claimed that handling or removing the asbestos affected components "constitutes a very low health risk". They admit that asbestos was used in the production of models from both brands.
Owners will rightly be wondering how such a situation could have arisen, and how the use of components that contain even the smallest traces of asbestos has slipped through to the Australian market.
The asbestos was discovered during routine spare parts tests by Customs and Border Protection officers a few months ago.
The ACCC is monitoring the recall, which will remove the asbestos components from affected models.
The affected Great Wall models include 21,500 utes and SUVs. The affected Chery models include 1700 J11 SUVs and 550 J3 light cars.
|Great Wall X240|
Recently delivered cars and the existing Chery J1 are free of asbestos and not included in the recall, according to the ACCC.
"We'll be writing to all owners very soon to explain the situation for their specific vehicle," said Ateco Automotive's Daniel Cotterill. "Included in that information will be a risk assessment done by an independent occupational health and safety consultant that outlines the risk to drivers and passengers from the asbestos in these gaskets as being negligible."
The report also notes that the danger to mechanics removing and replacing the components is minimal “even if [the work is] carried out in an uncontrolled way".
This is a terrible situation for the owners of these cars and the mechanics who have worked on them and it raises a lot of questions - particularly about the conditions of the factories where the cars were built and the health of the factory workers who handled these components.
Owners of affected Great Wall and Chery vehicles will be asked to return the vehicle to their dealership via a letter that they should receive this week.