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Asbestos found in 58 Flintshire schools

CHILDREN in 58 of the county’s schools are being taught in buildings containing asbestos – the world’s biggest industrial killer.

Figures shown to the Chronicle reveal all of Flintshire’s 12 high schools and 46 of the 74 primary schools have asbestos-containing materials.

The poisonous material is also contained in two of the county’s five special education units. The substance can be found in toilet cisterns, floor tiles, pipe insulation and other areas of the buildings.

And Wales secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), David Evans, has called on Flintshire County Council to carry out an urgent review of school buildings.

He said: “You can’t just cover up asbestos. It has to be removed and it should be done sooner rather than later.

“We have seen cases where children and teachers have been exposed to asbestos and where teachers have contracted mesothelioma – asbestos-related cancer.

“I would call on the council to carry out an urgent review and put something in place to ensure the work and school environment is a safe place.

“I think the only reason councils are unwilling to remove asbestos is cost, but you can’t put a price on children and employees.”

In 2008 an inquest found that Renee Eden, 69, was likely to have been killed by asbestos exposure in Flintshire school buildings.

The art teacher had worked at Castell Alun in Hope, Argoed High in Mynydd Isa and Elfed High in Buckley.

Cllr Klaus Armstrong-Braun, who requested the figures from Flintshire County Council, said they were extremely worrying.

He said: “Children are in classrooms breathing in asbestos for 30 hours a week – if these were factories it wouldn’t be allowed.

“It is utter complacency not to remove it. It should have been done years ago.”

A council spokesperson said: “Flintshire County Council takes very seriously its obligations in relation to the control and management of asbestos.

“The council regularly monitors and surveys all its public buildings, including all of its schools. If any asbestos is found in a Flintshire County Council-owned public building it is contained, monitored and managed effectively in accordance with stringent health and safety regulations.

“Asbestos surveys have been carried out in all our schools. These surveys began in 2002 on a rolling programme and re-inspection surveys are carried out periodically.

“Asbestos remedial works have been carried out by HSE-licensed removal contractors. This is an ongoing programme of managed works with suitable and adequate resources being made available on an annual basis.”