Asbestos fear at former Burnley school

CANCER-CAUSING: Asbestos found at the former Unity College site is holding up demoition work ' but contractors say there is no risk to the public.
CANCER-CAUSING: Asbestos found at the former Unity College site is holding up demoition work ' but contractors say there is no risk to the public.

FEARS about potentially-dangerous asbestos discovered at the former Unity College have been allayed by the demolition firm in charge.

Contractors were forced to stop work when the cancer-causing material was found in a roof space and scientists had to be drafted in to perform a full risk analysis.

Despite residents’ concerns, Carefoot Plc, the company conducting the demolition, said that the asbestos posed no harm to the public.

However, the rigorous safety procedures in place mean the Lancashire County Council project to landscape the Towneley Holmes site could be delayed for up to a month until mid-May.

Carefoot’s contracts manager Stuart Carefoot said: “The asbestos has been treated to stop any of the fibres escaping and it is monitored every few days.

“County scientists have been on site to check there is no asbestos dust on site. They said there has been no escape of dangerous fibres at all.

“People are very twitchy about asbestos, but it is dealt with in an extremely cautious way. It is treated in accordance with Health and Safety Executive regulations by licensed contractors.”

The building had already been scoured for asbestos in a two-month screening process before demolition work began.

But Mr Carefoot explained that some can slip through the net.

“Before demolition started a survey was done by Lancashire county analysts to find all the asbestos they could find. They then serve a notice to the Health and Safety Executive before the asbestos is removed in a safe and controlled manner so the building is clear and safe to be demolished.

“But with any building you can dig a floor up and find it.

“There are the occasional surprises.”

Workers did find asbestos on piping in the ceiling and immediately “wrapped” it to prevent cancerous fibres being released into the air.

However, the process to dispose of it is slow – the HSE must be consulted before licensed sub-contractors can be drafted in to remove it.

“Everything is done in complete accordance with regulations. Asbestos is a very tightly regulated thing.

“It has caused a delay in the project because we cannot be demolishing anything whilst the asbestos is still there.”