Campaigners Call on Welsh Government to Act on Asbestos Risk
The Welsh government should take a more proactive role in dealing with asbestos in schools, according to campaigners. Research by the BBC Wales programme ‘Week in Week Out’ showed that there were 1,514 schools in Wales containing asbestos.
It is thought that the situation throughout the UK is similar, with the majority of the 14,000 schools built between 1945 and 1975 containing the substance, all forms of which were finally banned in 1999.
Up until now the Welsh and UK governments have disagreed on who has responsibility. In March of this year, the government published the review of asbestos in schools policy for England; lawyer Cenric Clement-Evans from the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign told BBC Wales he wants a similar policy introduced to safeguard Welsh schoolchildren and staff. “This is too important to get embroiled in some form of party politics or some big issues between the Welsh government and the UK government,” he said. “I think that the way is fairly straightforward, not the managing of the issue but the putting together of a steering group, deciding policy. I don’t think it’s difficult to start that ball rolling.”
Between 2003 and 2012 there were 224 deaths in Britain from mesothelioma amongst former teaching staff. There are no figures relating to exposure by school pupils. During the same 12 year period there were a total of 21,957 deaths nationwide from the condition. Because of the time taken to develop the Health and Safety Executive, it is expected that national mesothelioma cases will continue to rise, reaching a peak in 2020.