CLARE County Council has confirmed that it has commissioned an external independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the depositing of asbestos-cement materials at a number of sites throughout West Clare.
The council says it has informed the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) of its intention to remove the hazardous waste material from nine separate locations in the vicinity of Kilrush and Kilkee.
A specialist asbestos consultant has been engaged by the council to advise the authority on the removal of the materials. West Clare county councillors have been informed about the process while the council has confirmed it will be liasing with members of the public living in the vicinity of the affected sites about the remedial works that are due to take place.
“Clare County Council’s environment section received a complaint from a member of the public last June regarding a number of areas where asbestos waste materials were deposited. The council has since identified nine sites where pieces of asbestos waste material are located on the surface and potentially buried. Six sites are in the vicinity of Kilkee while the remaining the sites are located in the vicinity of Kilrush,” the council statement revealed.
“All of the asbestos material investigated to date consists of broken pieces of asbestos cement water main. It is considered that all of this material originated on Clare County Council water services mains replacement and mains repair works. The material appears to have been deposited on behalf of the council, over an undetermined number of years up to June 2013. Asbestos waste material disposal is governed by legal requirements and the requirements of the HSA and the EPA. Clare County Council is currently investigating why the asbestos material was deposited at the locations and not disposed of accordingly,” the spokesperson added.
Clare County Council confirmed it has written to the HSA informing it of its intention to commence the first of three phases of work relating to the removal of the asbestos-cement materials in two weeks.
“The removal of the material will be done in three phases. Phase one, which is being done in accordance with the advice of a specialist asbestos removal consultant, involves the removal of pieces of broken asbestos pipe on the surface at all sites. This work will be done in accordance with method statements notified to the HSA and informed to the EPA. This work will commence shortly and will take approximately three to four weeks. Phase two involves the appointment of a specialist asbestos consultant to develop and carry out soil testing on the sites to establish the extent of asbestos material which is buried at the sites. We are in the process of procuring that consultant. Phase three will involve the removal of any asbestos material at any of the sites which is buried. The timeline for phase two and three is not known in detail as yet because it is subject to estimating the amount of material in each site. The costs associated with carrying out these works are as yet undetermined and will be guided by the outcome of the site investigations to take place in phase two,” the statement revealed.
The council acknowledged the threat to the health of people in the area.
“Clare County Council is conscious of the need to ensure that any work to remove the waste is undertaken in such a manner that ensures all risks are minimised. The council is aware asbestos fibres can pose a risk to human health if inhaled. Therefore, the work will be carried out in a manner that ensures asbestos fibres are not realised. This includes air quality monitoring throughout the affected sites and their environs. Any member of the public seeking further information regarding the proposed removal works should contact the Environment Section of Clare County Council,” the spokesperson concluded.