MP’s schools asbestos query

FOYLE MP Mark Durkan has written to Education Minister John O’Dowd requesting information on the number of Londonderry schools containing asbestos after a new report revealed the toxic fire retardant is present in 75 per cent of UK schools and 100 people die every year as a direct result of exposure whilst at school.

Mr Durkan has written to the Education Minister John O’Dowd calling for the Executive to set a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools in Northern Ireland.

He made he comments in the wake of a new report by the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety - Asbestos in schools: The need for action,’ which revealed the extent of the problem.

Mr Durkan said: “Every year over 4,000 people die in the UK as a result of their past exposure to asbestos. However, these deaths are not only confined to those employed in industrial settings.

“More than 75 per cent of state schools in Britain contain asbestos. Much of that is poorly maintained, meaning that some children, teachers and other staff are in danger of being exposed to asbestos.

“Indeed, recent evidence shows that more than 100 people die from mesothelioma every year in the UK as a direct result of their exposure whilst they were at school.”

The local MP said he has written to Mr O’Dowd recording his support for the recommendations contained in the report.

“It is vital that these recommendations are factored into future plans here in the North.

“I have also requested additional clarification as to the extent of this problem in schools in Derry.

“We must do all we can to prioritise this issue and prevent any more children and staff being exposed to this killer fibre,” he said.