Tenants are worried that the company assigned to remove asbestos from over 600 homes in North Ayrshire are throwing away prized possessions, such as family photos, instead of cleaning them.
There are also concerns that Rhodar, the company contracted by North Ayrshire Council, are allowing people back into their homes in the middle of the clean-up process.
But according to North Ayrshire Council, all asbestos removal contractors work within a strict licence, following procedures to minimise disturbance during removal.
The authority also said that some contaminated items might have to be disposed of if they cannot be cleaned.
Last week, The Times reported that 614 council houses in the authority had been notified of the presence of asbestos within their lofts – 44 in Kilwinning and 38 in Irvine.
This week, a North Ayrshire resident contacted us to say that workers from Rhodar had been seen throwing peoples’ personal possessions into skips.
The woman, who lives in one of the affected properties in the Fudstone area of Kilbirnie, said that she would prefer the asbestos in her loft remained undisturbed rather than have priceless items binned.
She told the Times: “I’m refusing to let them in. I can’t leave my house and come back and find that every single photo of my son since he was a baby has been thrown out.
“It’s not ideal that they’re going to come in here, go through your personal stuff – stuff that can’t be replaced, like photo albums – and throw it all inside a skip.
“Their letter says they’re not liable for any damage that might result from while they’re there.
“I’m worried about the damage that may be done by this company when they’re making it safe because they say that they are not responsible.
“My elderly neighbours have been watching them across the street and they’re throwing out everything.
“The couple said to me that you wouldn’t believe the stuff they’re throwing away. Apparently they’re just doing it gung-ho. Rather than cleaning it, they’re just throwing it away.”
Asbestos & Health: Frequently Asked Questions
North Ayrshire Council confirmed that the removal process will take place within each property over two days between 8am-5pm.
According to the letter sent out by Rhodar, tenants are allowed back into their properties overnight between the two days.
They then have to vacate again the following morning for the final day of the removal process.
The resident we spoke to said that she is terrified that the asbestos will have been disturbed and she blasted Rhodar for allowing people back into their homes in the middle of the clean-up operation.
She said: “I don’t understand how they can be allowed to go back in because there’s going to be particles of asbestos floating about.
“In my opinion, anything they’ve disturbed will be floating about and so the air will be contaminated. It’s ridiculous.
“I can’t believe they’re going to let people go back in during the cleaning and breathe in whatever has been disturbed.”
But North Ayrshire Council was keen to reassure worried tenants that there is no risk to their health.
A spokesperson said: “All asbestos removal contractors work within strict guidelines and the health and safety of tenants is never compromised.
“The asbestos removal work is carried out under strict conditions which ensure asbestos is contained and does not escape.
“Before anyone is allowed back into a property, the air is checked and verified by an accredited and independent United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) company.
“The council has obtained independent advice from an expert in the field of asbestos management regarding our planned response, which has confirmed that there is an extremely low risk to tenants’ health and that the actions taken to date and the proposed further actions outlined in our Cabinet paper of 13 September 2016 exceed our landlord obligations.
“The planned approach is also supported by NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s Public Health department.
“Some personal items may have to be disposed of if they can’t be cleaned of contamination. If it is possible to clean the item it will be retained and returned to the tenant. Tenants can follow our insurance claims policy where items have been lost.”
Source: Irvine Times