Thirty four schools in Torfaen contain asbestos
THERE are 34 schools in Torfaen which contain asbestos, figures from the council show.
The news comes amid renewed calls for an audit of asbestos in schools after the closure of the 937-pupil Cwmcarn High School in nearby Caerphilly county following the outcome of a structural report which revealed the "continued risk of exposure to asbestos fibres."
Nearly 200 of Gwent's 265 schools contain asbestos, figures released byt eh five local authorities show. That includes 53 in Newport, at least 30 in the Caerphilly county borough, 28 in Blaenau Gwent and 31 in Monmouthshire.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has called on the Welsh Government to carry out a national audit of the asbestos in schools, saying people in Wales had a right to know if they were a danger.
Such calls were welcomed by teacher's union NASUWT who said ministers should implement a programme for the safe removal of asbestos over a period of time starting with the schools most at risk.
NASUWT Wales organiser Rex Phillips said: "The only way to make our schools safe is to remove asbestos from them but we recognise the cost implications this raises and that this cannot be done overnight."
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths on the UK totalling around 4,500 a year.
Simon Ellis, partner at Hugh James solicitors in Cardiff welcomed proposals for a national asbestos register and said people should always be made aware of where asbestos is present.
But more importantly he said anywhere containing asbestos should be regularly assessed and monitored.
He said: "I'm increasingly concerned at the growing incidence of this type of situation, especially in public buildings such as schools. I would call on local authorities to be more vigilant in identifying asbestos in schools and taking the appropriate steps to protect the health of the pupils and staff."
All Gwent councils contacted said their schools had asbestos management plans in place and surveys were carried out as required by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.