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Action required as hundreds of North Wales schools found to contain asbestos………..
It has come to light that hundreds of schools across North Wales contain asbestos, and as a result, the public, The Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, and The National Union of Teachers (NUT), are calling for the Welsh Government to take action.
As there are so many schools that contain asbestos (a total of 367 across six counties), there is genuine concern from the public that staff and pupils could potentially be at risk.
A freedom of information request revealed how many schools in each area contain asbestos. The results are as follows:-
Gwynedd has the most schools containing the toxic substance with a figure of 111. Flintshire comes in second place with 70 schools, Denbighshire is third with 53 schools, Conwy has 51 schools, Wrexham has 44 and Anglesey has a total of 38.
Figures show that more teachers are dying from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, with figures having risen since the early 1980’s.
And more research shows that up to 300 adults die each year from mesothelioma, a direct result of being exposed to asbestos when they were children at school.
Right to Know’s member, Cenric Clement-Evans, said, “In my view we need an asbestos in schools steering group in Wales to assist the Welsh Government which should include wider representation than simply government departments.”
“The issue of asbestos in schools in Wales is clearly not receiving the same attention as in schools in England. This cannot be right.”
NUT Wales policy officer, Owen Hathway, stated, “No teacher or pupil should ever find themselves working in conditions that may impact on their health.”
“We know there have been cases in the past where exposure to asbestos has had dire consequences for school staff.”
“The fact is all asbestos should be removed from schools, whenever it is found and whatever its form, unless this is completely impracticable.”
The councils across North Wales have reassured the public that plans are in place to manage the asbestos in schools.
Surveys will be carried out along with monitoring and removing the asbestos as and when is necessary.
Each school has an asbestos management register so that staff and visitors are aware of the presence of asbestos, and each school also has a surveyor to monitor the condition of the asbestos and to advise if any action needs to be taken.
A spokesman from Gwynedd Council commented, “Over the years we have removed significant amounts of asbestos from our buildings.”
“However, removal is only required where the asbestos is in a dangerous condition and it cannot be repaired or where its removal is required to allow other building work to take place.”
Flintshire council’s chief officer for organisational change, Neal Cockerton, said, “Asbestos removal works are notified (where required) to the Health and safety Executive prior to commencement of works which will be pre-planned with school management to ensure that suitable and safe access is maintained.”
“Removal works are supported by the presence of independent UKAS accredited asbestos surveyors engaged in background air monitoring and four stage clearance procedures.”
And a government spokesman said, “We take this issue very seriously and, in May 2014, we published our own advice and guidance for schools and local authorities that is directly comparable to the policy in place in England and clearly sets out the responsibilities for local authorities and school governing bodies around asbestos management.”
“Our £1.4 billion 21st Century Schools and Education Programme is helping to refurbish schools and colleges across Wales. This programme includes the removal or treatment of asbestos and will continue to do so.”
Source of article:- www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/revealed-hundreds-north-wales-schools-12524923 by Steve Bagnall
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