Rogue operator blamed for upsurge in dumped asbestos

10 January 2019

A rogue commercial operator is suspected of being responsible for an increase in the number of fly-tipped asbestos in Newark and Sherwood.

The cost of dealing with the problem has doubled year on year as has the number of cases, figures from Newark and Sherwood District Council reveal.

The material poses health dangers and disposal must be carried out by specialist contractors who can only operate with a license.

Householders in the district who have had asbestos removed from their homes recently are being asked to get in touch with the council’s waste management team to check out whether it has been disposed of correctly. 

The costs and dangers of fly-tipping, particularly asbestos, have been highlighted by the district council which is currently running its Cleaner, Safer and Greener campaign.

Council deputy leader Councillor Keith Girling said: “Any fly-tipped waste is of serious concern but asbestos poses specific health risks when it is not disposed of responsibly. The fact that it has been dumped in this manner suggests that it has not been removed safely which could put people at risk.

“To the waste cowboys who are doing this, we would simply ask say: ‘Your mindless irresponsibility is putting people’s lives at risk and we will do all we can to catch you and ensure your illegal acts will be dealt with by the full weight of the law. Would you want to put your child or family in danger?’”

Asbestos is generally safe until it is disturbed. This applies to the more commonly found materials which usually have a low content of asbestos which is significantly bound into the product.  This is unlikely to release fibres especially if kept whole and is not handled or disturbed.  

However, some of the higher risk more fibrous materials can readily release asbestos fibres, especially if the material is dry. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

The majority of the current fatal cases from asbestos exposure – which stands at approximately 4.000 deaths per year in the UK - are associated with very high exposures from past-industrial processes and installation of asbestos products.

If you find fly-tipped asbestos you must not touch it but contact the council which will arrange for its removal and carry out an investigation. If you witness fly-tipping please make a note of any vehicle registrations or other relevant information and be prepared to make a written statement. 

In 2017/18 there were 21 cases of fly-tipped asbestos in Newark Sherwood which cost £6,680 to remove. For 2018/19 there have been 35 the cost so far has been £12,951 with more than three months remaining for the financial year.  The increase is due to both the number and the size of the fly-tips.

If you have any work done on your property or if you pay someone to take your waste away for you, you must make sure they are registered with the Environment Agency. If your waste is dumped illegally, you could be fined up to £50,000 and/or receive a prison sentence. At the Crown Court the fine is an unlimited fine and up to five years in prison. With asbestos the court will take into account the fact that it is hazardous waste and the penalty is likely to be greater.

For more on the disposal of asbestos, please contact Nottinghamshire County Council Customer Service Centre on 0300 500 80 80 or e-mail: customerservice.centre@nottscc.gov.uk . Information on the hazards associated with asbestos and its safe handling can be found on the HSE website http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/

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