Council Ordered To Remove Asbestos

Asbestos found in a school

20.08.2008

A council in North Wales is facing legal action if it does not remove asbestos found in a school in Prestatyn, it has been reported.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said the substance, which can cause serious heart and lung conditions, must be taken out of Prestatyn High School by September 31.

Denbighshire council has suspended a staff member whose attempts to remove the asbestos pipe cladding did not comply with HSE requirements.

The council said steps were being taken to remove the contaminated material and the work would not affect pupils and staff returning to school at the beginning of term.

A spokesman for the HSE confirmed that the council was ordered to remove the substance from the school at the end of June. It said failure to comply is a criminal offence and could result in legal action being taken.

The council told the BBC: "An action plan is already being implemented and we shall be meeting the HSE to ensure compliance with their requirements.

"Denbighshire takes its responsibility and duty of care as an employer extremely seriously."

A spokeswoman also confirmed that a member of staff had been suspended after an investigation was carried out.

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Adrian Budgen from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "We support the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' call for an urgent, Government commissioned, survey of all schools in England and Wales to determine the full extent of the asbestos problem. We don't know how many schools still contain asbestos, which is deeply worrying. Most teachers have little idea of whether they or their pupils are being exposed to it. Children, whose lungs are not fully developed, are particularly susceptible if they are exposed in unprotected conditions.

"We have only seen the tip of the iceberg."