At an expense of over 1 million to the taxpayer, asbestos that has been found in 38 different fire stations in South Wales, UK has been removed. A station in the country's capital was found to need urgent attention along with stations in 7 other towns. The cost of the removal was revealed after a Freedom of Information request from Chris Franks, a member of the Welsh political party, Plaid Cymru.
The astonishing number of stations with asbestos left only 5 in the South Wales area with a clean bill of health. The majority of the asbestos found was of the lesser toxic white variety although the extremely toxic brown variety was found at a minority.
According to the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, nearly 300,000 was spent on the removal of asbestos with the costs at each premises ranging from 1,000 to 35,000 with an extra 170,000 also spent on refurbishment works.
The figures represent a significant portion of the fire service budget for which the head of South Wales Fire and Rescue has written to ministers to highlight. Although the work is essential, it will place a significant burden on the financial abilities of the public sector, something that cannot be taken lightly in the emergency services especially during a time of severe cuts.
It is a legal requirement that asbestos removal is undertaken by qualified professionals and handled and disposed of correctly. Many individuals run scams where they charge huge amounts for work that can be done much cheaper claiming that due to strict laws they have no choice but to charge that price.
Despite being banned in construction for nearly 20 years, many buildings predating the ban have abundant amounts of it lining the walls and ceilings as a fireproof insulation. Certain types of asbestos are considered relatively safe if in tact but once it becomes damaged or begins to age; it can release lethal fibres into the air causing fatal diseases such as Mesothelioma or Asbestosis.
The total cost of the removal has crippled the emergency service budget in South Wales but they could face further costs if any of the workers wish to hire an asbestos lawyer to make a mesothelioma claim.