Asbestos fears loom over derelict Purley property
Asbestos contamination is suspected at a derelict property.
A concerned individual contacted newburytoday about potential exposed asbestos at 7 Mapledurham Drive in Purley-on-Thames.
The property has been in a bad state of repair for many years, say residents.
However, the collapse of an outbuilding on the premises has sparked fresh fears about the potential health dangers to the surrounding community.
Asbestos is usually harmless when intact.
But once disturbed, its harmful fibres can be dangerous if inhaled – contributing to increased risk of lung cancer and asbestosis (scarring of the lung tissue).
Children frequently travel down Mapledurham Drive to Bucknell’s Meadow play area.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the site this month.
A spokesperson said: “We have completed our enquiries into this matter and will not be taking any further action.”
Councillor Jane Langford (Con, Tilehurst and Purley) has also been investigating this issue.
“I am taking this very seriously,” she said. “If it was an unexploded bomb, everyone would be all over it, so why is the same not true for a possible asbestos contamination?”
Mrs Langford says the HSE informed her the asbestos at the property is of the type “highly unlikely” to cause damage.
She says it also told her that since the property is domestic and not work-related, it cannot lawfully intervene.
“The HSE are saying because no work is being done, that nothing is being disturbed,” she added.
“But it’s not that any work is being done, it’s that the buildings are falling down, so movement is happening.
“I would like to see surveys being conducted for demolishing old buildings, the same way you have to for trees and flood risks.”
The property is not currently occupied as its owner lives elsewhere.
The owner has been approached for comment.
The UK banned the import, supply and manufacture of any goods containing asbestos in 1999.
Until then, asbestos was widely used in commercial and residential construction, mainly for insulation and fireproofing.
If asbestos is discovered, a risk assessment must be carried out before any further refurbishment or demolition work.
If required, the removal of asbestos should be overseen by a licensed contractor or anyone with the correct level of instruction and training.
Asbestos waste should not be buried but disposed of at a licensed tip.
West Berkshire residents can dispose of cement-bonded asbestos for free at Newtown Road Household Waste Recycling Centre.
Call customer services on (01635) 519080 to arrange an asbestos appointment.