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Education Minister Leighton Andrews has announced that all schools in Wales must deliver reports on their asbestos levels by next week. The decision came after Cwmcarn High School in the Welsh Caerphilly County closed unexpectedly recently due to asbestos concerns. The school management team became aware of the concerns when a company visited the school to carry out a survey on a boiler room. He said the asbestos was found to be in airborne particles, with two-thirds of the school “inoperable”.
With regard to the school closure, it was announced that Cwmcarn is now safe to partially reopen. Mr Andrews referred to the situation at Cwmcarn as difficult and said councils had clear legal duties to do annual surveys. Mr Andrews also stated that it was well known that many schools in Wales built between the 1950s and 1980s contained asbestos and that the health and safety of staff is of paramount importance”.
NASUWT spokesman Rex Phillips had earlier raised safety concerns, saying high levels of the material had been found throughout the building. Geraint Davies of NASUWT stated that “In simple terms this is a health and safety matter and the Health And Safety Executive provides independent advice on such matters. In view of the seriousness of what has happened at Cwmcarn it’s only fair to all concerned, be it teachers and ancillary staff, parents and pupils and indeed the council itself, for such independent advice to be available.” An HSE spokesman confirmed: “We are looking into the issue of asbestos at the school. We have to see whether there are grounds for a full investigation.”
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Published Oct 17, 2012