Here they are, together with some background information...
Exposed asbestos photographed in January 2005...
These are the questions...
Please note that these questions relate specifically to public health & safety matters and do NOT relate directly to any planning applications currently under consideration by RMBC.
(this preamble was put in so that Councillors on the Planning Committee were not compromised by being present at the Public Forum- also the past behaviour of landowners may not be a material factor when considering planning applications)
Is there a full account available of the type and quantity of material removed from the upper Woodlands Rd area in February 2005?
What is the standard way for RMBC’s Media Unit to inform Councillors and interested parties of Press Briefings?
Following repeated requests by councillors and others to landowners and others about the disturbance and removal in open wagons of crushed asbestos factory rubble:
a. -Where did this rubble go to?
b. -Did the landowners use the correct procedures when this crushed rubble was disturbed and removed from November 2004 to March 2005?
Here is explanation of why these questions were asked:
DECONTAMINATION WORK- WOODLANDS RD, EARLY 2005
QUESTION: Is there a full account available of the type and quantity of material removed from the upper Woodlands Rd area in February 2005
Mick Coats said:
“This question is asked because at present there does not appear to be a document that confirms precisely what was removed by the decontamination unit sited on Woodlands Rd for over 6 weeks in early 2005. Why is such information not openly available to the public?”
The past 16 months has seen repeated denials by the developers about asbestos:
Here is a brief timeline:
• May 2004:Concerns were raised about ‘fibrous waste’ in upturned tree roots.
• October 2004: Save Spodden Valley had samples independently confirmed as amosite asbestos.
• December 2004: The developers’ Environmental Statement issued with the planning application noted (at Para.5.30) “of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination”.
• January 2005: Ian Simpson of Countryside Properties said on Radio 4’s You and Yours Programme that local people were wrong to say that there was exposed asbestos on the site.
• March 2004 It was then suggested by Countryside Properties (BBC Radio 4) that that ‘recent high winds’ had blown the trees over and exposed asbestos- the attached photo was taken 2 months BEFORE this suggestion.
• A document dated September 2004 was discovered that showed that the landowners new about exposed asbestos at least 5 months before Countryside Properties’ denial of exposed asbestos.
• During the decontamination work beside Woodlands Rd in February and March 2005, local people were told by an employee of the landowner that they were ‘just clearing away a bit of rubbish’. It was also suggested that ‘local troublemakers’ may have dumped asbestos on the site ‘to make things look bad for the landowners’.
Rather than being a ‘hotspot’, it is suggested that the whole hillside from the former Harridge Mill site to the River Spodden was once an asbestos dump site. Campaigners suggest there is the potential for tens of thousands of tonnes of dumped asbestos beneath the unstable hillside. They draw on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that describe the removal of approximately 4500 tonnes of asbestos contaminated soil from the lower part of Woodlands Rd in 1996.
Mick Coats concluded:
“The hillside beside upper Woodlands Rd is many times bigger that the small area remediated in 1996. The term ‘hotspot’ suggests the odd bucketful, perhaps an inappropriate term to describe an area potentially bigger than several football pitches”.
QUESTION: What is the standard way for RMBC’s Media Unit to inform Councillors and interested parties of Press Briefings?
Su Wilson commented:
“At past Township meetings, Councillors have expressed their demands to be kept fully informed of news about the Spodden Valley. The surprise closure of Woodlands Rd in May 2005 was an example where councillors felt as though they had been kept in the dark. Former Township Chair Cllr. Alan Taylor and current Chair Cllr. Angela Coric have both expressed the need for fully open government.
“Unfortunately, it appears that no councillors were told that there was to be a Press Briefing on Monday 12th September about Spodden Valley and the Multi Agency Group.
“Apparently, journalists who had previously published articles about the Spodden Valley were not invited.
“Save Spodden Valley campaigners were told they could not attend. We only wanted to take a seat at the back and take notes. We do not have an account of what was said at the briefing.
“Councillors and campaigners were shocked when BBC TV’s North West Tonight news reported that no decisions are expected about the planning application this year- why weren’t they told first rather than finding out from television?”
The Hazardous Waste Regulation refers to 0.1% w/w (weight by weight) as the threshold at which hazardous waste is classed as ‘carcinogenic’ (cancer causing).
Save Spodden Valley co-ordinator Jason Addy is taking a bucket of soil and a brick to show councillors what 0.1% w/w looks like.
He tipped 3 grams of sherbet powder into a bucket containing 3 kilograms of soil
Jason Addy commented:
“It appears that standard testing procedures first use visual inspection of soil to look for fibrous elements such as asbestos- how can just looking at soil accurately assess if it contains asbestos? When 2 millions fibres can balance on a pinhead surely there must be more stringent testing?”
A brick dusted with a trace of sherbet was used to demonstrate how fine asbestos dust and fibre within building rubble and soil could pose a danger.
Jason Addy suggested:
“The threshold limit of 0.1% weight by weight may be misleading. A piece of brick may weigh a couple of kilograms and the asbestos dust on it be a fraction of a gram- technically that may fall outside the law governing hazardous waste but the fine dust can still be released and inhaled. You can’t breathe in a house brick”.
The following question was asked:
QUESTION: Following repeated requests by councillors and others to landowners and others about the disturbance and removal in open wagons of crushed asbestos factory rubble:
a.- Where did this rubble go to?
b.- Did the landowners use the correct procedures when this crushed rubble was disturbed and removed from November 2004 to March 2005?
Campaigners have taken many photographs of crushed asbestos factory rubble being disturbed and taken away on open lorries. The men loading the dusty rubble appeared to wear no protective equipment whilst working. There was no damping down of the rubble. No test results have been released to indicate that the rubble removed from November 2004 to March 2005 was free of asbestos contamination. No risk assessments have been released- apparently there is no duty for landowners to disclose these to the public.
Councillors of all parties have repeatedly asked the developers where this asbestos factory rubble was taken to. No answer has yet been forthcoming. According to the developers’ own reckoning, there is approximately 3000 tonnes of crushed rubble on site.