Official concern has been raised about large piles of crushed rubble on the site of the former Turner Brothers asbestos factory.
The largest pile of crushed rubble is approximately 20 feet high with a base of approximately 70 feet by 50 feet. Councillors at a recent TBA Working Party meeting were shocked to hear that the developers and environmental surveyors of the asbestos factory site say they did not know anything about piles of crushed asbestos factory rubble.
Countryside Properties director Ian Simpson and Managing Director of the environmental consultancy company Encia were questioned repeatedly about the way the crushed rubble is being disturbed by JCB digger and loaded into open wagons. It has been seen being driven off-site and driven through the streets of Rochdale to unknown destinations. Photographs taken of the rubble being disturbed show workers not wearing masks as fine dust is created.
Jason Addy of campaigning group Save Spodden Valley questioned the senior managers’ lack of knowledge about the piles of crushed asbestos factory:
“We have spoken to Countryside Properties and MMC Estates about this rubble at a face-to-face meeting. We wrote to Mr Simpson of Countryside Properties in February asking for permission to test the rubble for asbestos content- this request was refused”.
“I cannot understand why Encia say they do not know about the huge pile of crushed asbestos factory- they are the company that submitted an environmental report about the factory site with the planning application. How can they miss something so big?”
“The buildings that have been crushed into rubble employed people that have since died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Archived company papers show that dust was present in the air of whole factory complex. Our concern is that the cavities and inner fabric of these buildings may have been riddled with decades of fine asbestos dust and fibre. Asbestos fibres are miniscule- 2 million can fit on a pinhead. People who have only worked in the office of Turners have died from mesothelioma. We think this rubble should be treated with the utmost care and respect.
Councillor Tom Stott Chair of the TBA working party is to write formally to the site’s owners and developers:
“All we are asking for are some simple facts- does this rubble contain asbestos or not? Has this fact been established before unprotected workers have disturbed the rubble and driven it through the streets of Rochdale in uncovered wagons? Where is this rubble going to?”
Christine Arrowsmith, Chairman of Rochdale Primary Care Trust Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forum, has also written to express the Forum’s concern about the health hazards of crushed asbestos factory rubble.
Ken Smith, Rochdale Council’s Head of Planning and Regulation is also in discussion with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding recent activity on the former asbestos factory site.