A local authority in Wales is coming to terms with the fact it faces a difficult fight to rid itself of a significant asbestos threat that currently hangs over many of its buildings.
Pembrokeshire County Council owns 70 properties in total and a freedom of information request has revealed only six of these do not contain asbestos, reports the Milford & West Wales Mercury. Of these addresses, some of those to contain the deadly material include public libraries and leisure centres.
While it is now illegal to use asbestos in construction projects, many older buildings still have it packed within their walls and, if people are exposed to it, it can lead to fatal conditions. In Pembrokeshire, the most common form of asbestos found within the buildings is crocodolite, while amosite and chrysotile are also threats.
There are also a considerable number of schools on the list of buildings with asbestos, meaning it is important that the material is not disturbed if children are to be safeguarded.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos remains the greatest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. As such, it must be treated with extreme caution and workers should always be kitted out with safety equipment to prevent them coming into contact with it.
Councillor Huw George, Pembrokeshire County Council's cabinet member for education, explained to a recent council meeting that the authority has some robust systems already in place in order to deal with the problem. He noted the body will be able to manage and regulate all asbestos in schools.
He also said the HSE has told the council it should leave asbestos in place in buildings and not disturb it. Effective management is certainly the way forward.
Should it manage to achieve this, it would not only protect the many schoolchildren in question and users of other council-run facilities, it could also ensure no harm comes to workmen who are tasked with dealing with the material.