Asbestos (Trains)

Northern Ireland written question – answered am ar 10 Mawrth 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr John Hume Mr John Hume Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what part was played by the Department in the processing of train carriages containing asbestos in the Crosshill Quarry Site between November 2003 and June 2004; what method of processing was used; on what dates; and whether the Department has assessed the extent to which statutory obligations were adhered to by the asbestos processing company.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

The Department of the Environment played no part in the repositioning of the carriages at Crosshill. I understand that this work commenced before 19 December 2003 when the regulatory powers for waste management transferred from district councils to the Department's Environment and Heritage Service (EHS).

I understand that the original method of moving the carriages was modified as they were too heavy to be removed in one piece. The carriages were removed by cutting them into three sections using large mechanical shears. The work was undertaken by an operator trained in asbestos removal, who did not observe any asbestos when the work was being carried out.

The site was inspected by my waste management officials on 13 February 2004 and they saw no evidence of railway carriages or asbestos waste, findings reinforced by photographic and documentary evidence on file. The site is also subject to regulation by EHS under the terms of the Water (NI) Order 1999. In the course of a regulatory site visit on 24 February 2004, EHS Water Management officials noted that no carriages were visible".

In addition, EHS has undertaken independent water quality and soil sampling tests at the site and concluded that there has been no breach of the water order consent nor evidence of contravention of waste licensing controls. The Department therefore has no grounds to take action against the company.

EHS will continue to monitor the Crosshill site for the presence of asbestos to ensure full compliance with the water order consent. Independent air quality monitoring will be a condition of any subsequent waste licence or permit application.

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