Missed opportunity for robust asbestos testing?
Date published: 16 September 2015
Exposed asbestos in the Spodden Valley
Rochdale Township is to vote tonight (Wednesday 16/9/15) on plans to conduct air monitoring around the perimeter of the site of the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site.
Andy Glover, Chief Public Protection Officer for Rochdale Council, gave an interview to BBC Radio Manchester. Explaining the reason for the testing he said: “The Council wants to reassure local residents in terms of any risk to health that might be perceived from any airborne asbestos contamination from the site. The Council doesn't think that the case but clearly we want to reassure local residents by carrying out proper tests, scientifically, that will confirm that and move forward."
He added: “Its a scientific exercise, we've got several monitoring stations posted around the perimeter of the site with another control piece of equipment located here at [Rochdale Council]. Monthly readings will be taken from those pieces of equipment that will give an in-depth and comprehensive picture.
"...These figures will be analysed, we will receive a report from the consultants carrying that out and we will be looking to share any information that we gain with local residents because, as we say, the main exercise is to provide reassurance wherever possible.”
Responding live on BBC Radio Manchester, Save Spodden Valley campaign co-ordinator Jason Addy said: “What should be a 'good news' story may actually be cause for grave concern.”
Explaining to Rochdale Online Mr Addy continued: “For over 10 years we have been asking for baseline air monitoring of the site as a basic for robust and scientifically sound fact gathering. The purpose of testing should be to establish facts so that safe and accountable decisions can be made. If Rochdale Council's position is that air monitoring is to 'provide reassurance' then there is a danger that the public could see this as a cynical PR exercise with a predetermined outcome.
“It appears that aspects of the proposed testing is shrouded in some mystery. This may be yet another missed opportunity for expert advice to help create a robust testing procedure to monitor environmental asbestos exposure. Unfortunately this offer of expert help seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
“This was the site of the world's largest asbestos factory. Official reports confirm that the site contains tens of thousands of tonnes of dumped asbestos. Archived document confirm this was a dangerous and dusty factory complex. It is no ordinary industrial site. Scientifically robust testing methods should acknowledge and respect that.
“This has been a toxic blight for far too long. The simplest immediate option would be a very careful demolition of the remaining factory buildings with the site capped as an extension to Healey Dell Nature Reserve. Please put people before profit.
In an extraordinary olive branch Mr Addy added live on radio: “I'm calling out for the real owner behind the brass plaque off-shore company for the chance to be a real hero. Work with local people to make this a safe 'green lung' - something that Rochdale can be proud of.”