Pro­tester shocked by as­bestos test re­sults

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - DA­MON WILKIN­SON da­mon.wilkin­son@men­ @Da­monWilkin­son6

TEST­ING has found there is ‘no ev­i­dence of sig­nif­i­cant risk’ to peo­ple liv­ing close to what was once the world’s big­gest as­bestos fac­tory.

Just one fi­bre of as­bestos was dis­cov­ered dur­ing an 18-month sur­vey of air lev­els around the old Turner Broth­ers site.

But the find­ings, which were pub­lished on Mon­day, have been called into ques­tion by cam­paign­ers who de­scribed them as ‘breath-tak­ing.’

The Rochdale coun­cil-com­mis­sioned test took sam­ples from four per­ma­nent mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions, in­clud­ing one at nearby Falinge Park High School, and five tem­po­rary sta­tions around the site be­tween Au­gust 2015 to March 2017.

An­drea Fal­lon, Rochdale coun­cil’s di­rec­tor of pub­lic health and well­be­ing, said: “The re­sults from the coun­cil com­mis­sioned mon­i­tor­ing of air­borne as­bestos fi­bres around the perime­ter of the for­mer Turner Brother As­bestos site are now avail­able to res­i­dents.

“The re­sults from the in­de­pen­dent mon­i­tor­ing of air­borne as­bestos fi­bres at the site have been re­viewed and we did not find any ev­i­dence of any sig­nif­i­cant risk to the health of those re­sid­ing in ar­eas sur­round­ing the site. The re­port has been shared with Pub­lic Health Eng­land who fully sup­port these find­ings.”

But as­bestos cam­paigner Ja­son Addy called the re­sults into ques­tion.

He said: “The re­sults are breath-tak­ing. They sug­gest that the air around what was once the world’s big­gest as­bestos fac­tory is some of the world’s clean­est. A pre­vi­ous re­port con­firmed that there are tens of thou­sands of tonnes of as­bestos on the site - this is Ground Zero for as­bestos in the world.

“But I don’t want to be neg­a­tive. At this stage what we need to see is all the de­tail so we have the op­por­tu­nity to ques­tion it.

“We know that as­bestos kills, it has al­ready killed far too many. There are Rochdalians suf­fer­ing with mesothe­lioma right now, but let’s put all the emo­tion to the side and let’s deal with the facts. All we have ever asked for is ro­bust science to es­tab­lish the facts.”

Spe­cial­ist Dids­bury-based firm Bureau Ver­i­tas was com­mis­sioned by the coun­cil to carry out the tests to es­tab­lish if the old fac­tory, one of the most con­tro­ver­sial derelict sites in Greater Manch­ester, posed a risk to pub­lic health.

In 2011 Rochdale coun­cil re­fused plan­ning per­mis­sion for a £100m scheme to build 600 homes on the Spod­den Val­ley site.

●●Test­ing has found ‘no ev­i­dence of sig­nif­i­cant risk’ to peo­ple liv­ing near the for­mer Turner Broth­ers As­bestos site, re­sults cam­paigner Ja­son Addy (inset) de­scribed as ‘breath-tak­ing’

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