Concerns over asbestos at Hartlepool housing site

John Marshall at the former Steetley site with a piece of material which he believes is asbestos. Picture by FRANK REID.

John Marshall at the former Steetley site with a piece of material which he believes is asbestos. Picture by FRANK REID.

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AN asbestos survey is being carried out on a former factory site which has been earmarked for housing to rule out any risk of contamination.

Concerns were raised by former town councillor John Marshall, who claims that the hazardous material is buried on a section of the former Steetley site in West View, Hartlepool.

John Marshall at the former Steetley site. Picture by FRANK REID.

John Marshall at the former Steetley site. Picture by FRANK REID.

But today, Environment Agency (EA) officials and representatives for Sirius Remediation – the firm which is cleaning up the site – said that there is no evidence to support the claim and there is documentation showing asbestos from the demolition of the old buildings was “disposed of properly”.

However, in a bid to reassure the public, further tests are being carried out with trial pits being dug to see if any of the material is discovered.

Mr Marshall said: “I’ve seen pictures of asbestos on the Health and Safety Executive website and the stuff I’ve seen all over this site looks exactly the same.

“I went up to the site and had a meeting with these people.

John Marshall believes that this material, which he found on the old Steetley site is asbestos.

John Marshall believes that this material, which he found on the old Steetley site is asbestos.

“If they can come back to me and tell me I’m wrong after testing this material, then I will be delighted. I want to be proved wrong.”

He added: “That site has been earmarked for housing so we need to know for sure whether it’s safe.”

EA team leader Tristan Drought said: “We have no evidence that asbestos has been buried on site.

“The clean-up company has told us there is paperwork available to show that any asbestos produced from the demolition of buildings there has been taken away to be disposed of properly.

“However, the firm has agreed to carry out further investigations, including an asbestos survey and digging up the land where the complainant claims asbestos has been buried. If asbestos is picked up during these surveys then it will be removed safely.

“We will be liaising with the company to ensure this work is carried out.”

Phil Collings, remediation director for Sirius, said: “In line with a plan approved by Hartlepool Borough Council and relevant regulators the main area of the former Magnesia Works site underwent an extensive phase of remediation between 2012 and 2013.

“The site was previously derelict and the present owner invested heavily in a scheme to clean up the site and help bring the land back into a useable condition.

John Marshall at the former Steetley site. Picture by FRANK REID.

John Marshall at the former Steetley site. Picture by FRANK REID.

“Asbestos products associated with former works were found on site and were fully remediated.

“This involved removal of all significant asbestos-containing products to a suitably licensed landfill facility for which records are available.”

He added: “Additionally the site was excavated and fully engineered to help expose and remove any significant asbestos and treat other residual contamination risk.

“No significant asbestos risk was considered to remain on completion of the works. These works were supervised and are fully catalogued.”

“We are aware that there has been a recent suggestion that asbestos was buried within a defined area as part of the works, which we can assure you, is not the case.

“Further preparatory work is currently being undertaken and this work will provide an opportunity to carry out some additional investigation work to clearly demonstrate that there is no significant risk associated with asbestos on the site.

“There is no reason from a contamination point of view for people not to go onto the site, but the site is private property and anyone entering without permission is trespassing.

“For that reason people should not go on to the site but should keep strictly to public right of way routes from the Brus Tunnel to the beach.”

In March 2005, Hartlepool Borough Council had to fork out £650 for a clean-up bill after Mr Marshall, a councillor at the time, waved a piece of ‘asbestos’ at a meeting in the civic centre in a bid to highlight a delay in demolishing a disused sports centre.

He later said the grey concrete slabs he brought into the meeting didn’t contain the toxic substance and said “the people at the meeting panicked for themselves”.