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Asbestos survey leads to closure of eight buildings

A 4m programme of work to ensure RCT Council maintains its legal duties has identified eight buildings that need preventative and remedial work to deal with potential asbestos-related problems.

As a result, the buildings have been closed and work - in conjunction with independent safety experts and the Health and Safety Executive - has begun immediately in order to get it completed as soon as possible and reduce disruption as the school term draws near.

The eight affected buildings are: Llwyn Crwn Primary School, Gwauncelyn Primary School, Ferndale Community School, Penrhys Primary School, Heol Y Celyn Primary School, Hirwaun Primary School, Penrhys Community Centre, Y Pant School.

The situation at Heol Y Celyn has been further complicated by a serious leak in the infants building, which left classrooms under four inches of water. Work needed as a result of the flood and the asbestos means temporary accommodation has been provided on site.

It comprises warm, water tight and safe temporary classrooms and temporary toilets. In order to move equipment and settle into the temporary buildings, school staff asked for extra time. This has been granted and, while staff will be on site by September 4, pupils will not return until September 11.

To expedite the work needed - which is relatively small-scale and short term - contractors have been temporarily diverted from the long-term environmental cleaning works at Maesgwyn.

Maesgwyn has been closed for some months for work, and alternative accommodation has already been found for the school for the new term.

Rhondda Cynon Taf, as with any organisation that owns property, has a legal obligation to maintain a register of asbestos materials contained in the structure of buildings. Two years ago, a programme of inspections and works was launched to fulfil this duty, leading to the identification of the above sites.

In many cases, asbestos is in the structure of buildings - such as roofs and fascias - and is impossible to reach or damage. However, it is only when asbestos becomes damaged and fibres become loose that there can be potential health risks.

In most cases, asbestos can be left in place and managed and monitored with no risks.

Despite the risks being slim, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is refusing to take any chances and is endeavouring to complete environmental cleaning work as soon as possible.

Colin Atyeo, Service Director Corporate Estates, said: "The use of asbestos in older buildings throughout the UK is not uncommon, therefore both public and private organisations are required to locate and manage its presence.

"As part of its health and safety responsibilities, the Council has been working with specialists to improve the condition of its property. Part of this programme is the development of a register showing the location of asbestos in all our buildings and how best to deal with it.

"The mention of asbestos can be an emotive subject to many people, but I would like to give an assurance that we are managing the programme as safely and sensitively as possible. In all cases, we err on the side of caution, however, where asbestos presence is identified as a potential risk, remedial works begin immediately.

"I do of course recognise that any work commenced at short notice will involve varying degrees of inconvenience to the building occupiers, but we are doing all we can to minimise disruption caused and I am sure people will appreciate the work we are undertaking is important."

Wedi'i ddiweddaru ar: 24/8/2006
Cynhelir gan: Marketing & Communications Team