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Asbestos lawyer shocked by rise in illegal dumping of toxic substance

Fly tipping of asbestos on the rise

Asbestos roof

7 September 2017

A recent report on ITV News reveals that the illegal fly tipping of asbestos is on the rise in the UK.

Asbestos is a toxic substance that is widely used as insulating board, in cement, floor and ceiling tiles, as roof sheets, as lagging, and in many other ways.  Exposure to asbestos fibres can lead people to develop the fatal lung cancer mesothelioma, and other asbestos diseases.

The Health and Safety Executive has published extensive guidance on the safe removal of asbestos but the ITV report shows that the illegal dumping of the substance is growing, posing a threat to human health.

A Freedom of Information request by ITV News revealed 3,222 asbestos fly-tipping reports so far in 2017, a rise of some 14% in three years. The annual cost of removing illegally dumped asbestos is in the region of £1 million. 

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government have issued guidance to local councils on their fly-tipping responsibilities, which includes reporting asbestos waste to the Health and Safety Executive. The dumping of asbestos in a non-designated area is illegal and councils have the power to hand out on-the-spot fines to fly tippers. The sentencing guidelines have also been strengthened to tackle the problem of asbestos dumping. Latest government figures show that just over two thousand prosecution actions on fly-tipping were taken in 2015/16. 

Asbestos lawyer Harminder Bains said:

“The growing threat of illegally dumped asbestos in the UK is a serious concern.  Asbestos is being dumped near footpaths, parks and roads, places where people can easily be exposed to potentially fatal asbestos fibres.

“Local councils must do everything within their powers to ensure that this hazardous substance is removed as soon as possible to protect public health.”

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