Responding to the announcement by Education Minister Leighton Andrews, that he has asked all local authorities to establish the extent of asbestos in their schools, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in Wales, said:
“We welcome the fact that the Welsh Government is taking this potentially life-threatening situation seriously. Nothing can be more important than the health and welfare of the children and young people in our schools and the staff who work in them.
“There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos, as this would incur major costs at a time of savage cuts to education budgets.
“The NASUWT would wish to support the Welsh Government in seeking funding for this essential measure.”
Rex Phillips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said:
“The only way to make our schools safe is to remove asbestos from them but we recognise the cost implications this raises and that this cannot be done overnight.
“The NASUWT would expect the Welsh Government to ensure that local authorities are provided with a programme for the safe removal of asbestos from our schools over a period of time, starting with the schools that present the most risk.
“The workplace clearance level after the removal of asbestos is set at 0.01 fibres per millilitre. This is the level at which buildings are usually reopened.
“At Cwncarn High School the threshold was set at 0.0005 fibres per millilitre of air which is recognised as the normal background level in a school with asbestos in good condition.
“The Welsh Government must now follow the Caerphilly Authority’s example and ensure that local authorities across Wales apply the ‘three noughts five test’ in all schools where asbestos is present to ensure that the working and learning environment is as safe as possible.”
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