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Investigation reveals thousands of Welsh Government buildings contain deadly asbestos

03 Jan 2023 3 minute read
Sam Rowlands (L) Asbestos Hazard Photo by thirtyfootscrew is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Thousands of public buildings in Wales still contain deadly asbestos, new research has found.

Freedom of information requests found 5,264 council, health board and Welsh Government buildings have asbestos or are suspected of having it.

The Welsh Conservative report revealed 1,302 of the public buildings likely to have asbestos were schools.

1,170 Welsh Government buildings in Swansea had asbestos, representing 90% of its stock.

Cardiff Council had the highest proportion at 92%.

Carmarthenshire had 182 school buildings with asbestos, the highest of all council areas, followed by Cardiff with 104.

Exposure

Long term exposure to asbestos can cause harmful lung conditions and its use in construction is now banned in the UK.

If any asbestos lying dormant in a building is damaged, the fibres, which are known to cause cancer, can be released into the air.

636 health board buildings in Wales were found to have asbestos with 197 of them in Cardiff and Vale.

Health board buildings in Powys had the highest proportion with asbestos at 94%.

In total, 35% of the Welsh Government’s administrative estate had asbestos.

Asbestos is more likely to be found in buildings constructed prior to the year 2000 and is not harmful unless the fibres are disturbed.

“Public health risk”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Local Government Minister Sam Rowlands MS said: “These buildings house council workers, NHS staff, patients, teachers, pupils, and more – they should be able to go to work, school, or hospital and feel safe there, especially from this substance with the potential to cause cancer.

“Whilst we know it’s unlikely that asbestos will be inhaled unless buildings are damaged, the scale of this issue suggests a public health risk that is just not being tackled.

“These buildings are in the hands of government – be it local or national – with enormous numbers of people coming through their doors every day, so Labour ministers really need to examine the possibility of ring-fencing funding to address these defects.

“Otherwise, the public servants who go there to educate our children and treat our parents will continue have to enter a building they know may be unsafe for them and others.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We provide guidance to local authorities to help them fulfil their responsibilities of managing, monitoring and, if necessary, removing asbestos from their buildings.

“We maintain careful records of our own buildings and consider whether removal of asbestos is practical as part of refurbishment work.”


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Huw Jones
Huw Jones
28 days ago

This isn’t news to anyone who has worked in public service. It’s sometimes there is no money to deal with particularly during the 12 years the part who are highlighting it have controlled the UK. I would love to see Davies and his cronies make some sensible and positive suggestions instead of sniping from the sidelines.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
28 days ago
Reply to  Huw Jones

Asbestos in welsh public buildings isnt party political – these are horrifying figures and it would appear the welsh labour govt has no plan to do anything about it!

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
28 days ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Why should they? Asbestos is perfectly safe if left undisturbed. Anyone competent in risk assessment will confirm that the greatest danger is during removal.
The UK was forced to pass the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 by the EU who rightly accused Westminster of not following Directive 2009/148/EC. If you have a problem with the way authority deals with asbestos then Brexit and Westminster are your problem, not the Sennedd.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago

Is that why the 1839 grade 2 listed Bron y Garth hospital in Penrhyndeudraeth is so neglected. There will have to a name change when it is eventually developed as ‘Y Garth’ (the quarry) is almost no longer extant, in my lifetime even…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago

What was wrong with my comment Mark?

Mark Mansfield
Admin
28 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Nothing. It’s above now. I only just noticed it was waiting for approval

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark Mansfield

Diolch…

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
28 days ago

These are horrifying figures and afraid to say the response from the welsh labour govt’s spokesperson isnt very reassuring!

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
27 days ago

I think a more apt headline would be “Investigation reveals thousands of Welsh Government buildings contain deadly tories”

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