A warning has been issued to parents after asbestos “in its most dangerous state” was found following demolition work to a factory — not 100 yards from a local primary school.
Belfast City Council issued the news via a press release last Thursday (February 17) warning of the public health risks surrounding the demolition work at the Ulster Weavers factory on Maldon Street. Parents were advised to keep their children away from the site, facing Donegall Road Primary School. A full health and safety investigation has also been launched.
Billy Dickson, a community representative, said: “To find asbestos after the demolition, when it has been disturbed, is finding it in its most dangerous state.
“This is very worrying, especially as it is opposite a primary school. I am relieved to see the council have secured the site, and an investigation is going to be carried out into this.
“Most old buildings have asbestos, and it should be dealt with by special contractors before demolition takes place, I wonder if this has been done?”
Michelle McDowell, whose three children attend the school, said: “This site should have been secured properly a long time ago. I have complained many times to the council about the dangers on this site, this problem has been going on for three years. Last summer the kids kept starting fires in the site, it was so easy for them to access.”
Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We haven’t received any warning about this, nothing has been issued to us through our doors from the council and the school hasn’t notified us of this development.
“I feel this has been brushed under the carpet, there is around 100 tonnes of asbestos on that site and the decision to board up the site only last week is outrageous. This area should have been sealed up properly years ago, so many little kids have been playing on that site and we have been told it wasn’t dangerous — it beggars belief. The public have made various presentations about this but it fell on deaf ears.”
The council and the Public Health Agency are assuring local people that early indications are that the off site risk is extremely low level but more detailed surveys and air testing are being conducted. A council spokesperson said: “More detailed analysis of the situation is being carried out and we will continue to monitor it very closely. Belfast City Council has initiated an in depth survey of the site.”
Anyone with concerns can call Environmental Health Service on 9027 0428.