Sunday 21 July 2019

Asbestos a 'serious risk' to public health in Meelin

Collins - 'The people of Meelin have the right not to be exposed to this kind of thing'

Bill Browne

Asbestos breaking off from the roof of a derelict shed in Meelin is, according to a county councillor living in the village, posing a "serious risk" to the health of local residents.

The issue was raised at the February meeting of the Council's Kanturk/Mallow committee by Cllr Timmy Collins (Ind), who said more damage is being caused to the roof with each passing storm. 

"The most concerning aspect of this is that broken asbestos is being blown around, which poses a serious risk to the health of people using the nearby footpath to go to mass, school and the local sports complex," said Cllr Collins. 

He said he had raised the issue with health and safety officials, who told him they were unable to do anything about it. 

"They assured me they would come out and investigate, but there is no real need as it is obvious this is a major health hazard. I have spoken about this  with officials but feel it should be raised here to see if this committee can do anything. This kind of situation should under no circumstances be allowed to happen in a public place," said Cllr Collins. 

He said that following the most recent storm he had received numerous calls from concerned residents about the deteriorating condition of the shed. 

"In this day and age people should not have to worry about this kind of health hazard when going about their daily business. It is highly likely that more asbestos will break off the roof when the next storm hits. The risk  that broken asbestos  pieces pose to health has been well documented and it is scandalous that this shed has been left in this condition," said Cllr Collins. 

"The people of Meelin have the right not to be exposed to this kind of thing," he said.  

Council engineer Billy Dennehy said the authority would first have to find out who owned the shed, to which Cllr Collins asked was that even necessary given the potential public health danger the asbestos posed. 

"In any case, I am told that ownership of the shed may be disputed, which would be somewhat understandable as it would cost an awful lot of money to get the asbestos safely removed. The Community Council would quite happily move in and take on a licensed contractor to do the job if they had the finances needed to cover the cost," said Cllr Collins. 

Area district officer Liz Donovan said the Council was aware of the situation and was "investigating a number of routes" that could be taken to address the issue, including fencing off the property. 

However, Cllr Collins said simply fencing off the shed would not take from the fact that it was still a health hazard. 

"I am requesting that some form of urgent action be taken to address the  condition of the shed and make it safe before next months area meeting," he said. 

Committee chair, Cllr Gearoid Murphy (FF) described  the situation as "very alarming." Ms Donovan said the authority would look into the situation and bring a report on their findings back to the committee.