Asbestos in dozens of schools poses 'no risk' insist councils

ASBESTOS present in almost every school in Clydebank poses no risk to children or staff, insist council bosses.

Hundreds of older buildings throughout the country had asbestos in foundations or walls, but remain safe provided the substance is not disturbed.

A list emerged last month of 10 schools and nurseries across Clydebank and 16 in north-west Glasgow – effectively all older buildings – that still have the potentially deadly substance in them.

Education officials say they know where the asbestos is in each building and carry out regular checks to ensure there is no risk.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) formal advice is that asbestos is only a risk when released into the air and breathed in. When materials are in good condition and not likely to be damaged, they should be left in place and monitored.

The former St Eunan’s Primary site was found to have asbestos in the foundation only once the school was demolished. There is no suggestion pupils ever came into contact with the substance because of its location.

A West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) spokesman told the Post: “Like schools across Scotland, some of our buildings have asbestos containing materials such as ceiling texture coatings (Artex, for example) and in some older insulation products.

“It is important to note the HSE’s advice that asbestos only becomes a risk to human health when it is disturbed.

“The council will continue to adhere to a strict and robust asbestos policy in line with current legislation, with the policy subject to regular review. If any issues are identified in the course of regular inspections, appropriate action will be taken.”

Jackie Baillie MSP urged the SNP-led council to continue the work of the previous Labour administration to replace or refurbish all schools.

She said: “Clydebank was once known as the asbestos capital of Europe as a result of our shipbuilding heritage and heavy industry. Local people know as well as anyone that we need to do everything possible to protect future generations from the risks of the deadly substance.

“After years of underinvestment, the previous Labour administration started the work of rebuilding and refurbishing the primary school estate. And when the new-build OLSP opens this year, every young person in Dumbarton, Alexandria and Clydebank will be in a modern state-of-the-art high school. This report highlights the need to get on with the job Labour started and rebuild or refurbish every school in West Dunbartonshire.”

Clydeside Action on Asbestos (CAA) has called for all schools to be asbestos free by 2040. Speaking before an annual memorial service last Friday for victims of mesothelioma, the group’s manager, Phyllis Craig, said they want to raise awareness of Scots still exposed to asbestos in public buildings.

She said: “We know that removing asbestos from all public buildings would be a mammoth and costly task and it is therefore imperative that asbestos in buildings has to be managed with the utmost responsibility and care.

“However, it is a shocking reality that more than 1,500 schools and nurseries in Scotland contain asbestos.

“Our priority is to see asbestos removed from all schools and nurseries in Scotland by 2040.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We have a robust management programme in place to ensure safety in all our buildings and work closely with the Health & Safety Executive.

«The management of asbestos within occupied buildings is a complex arena, and whilst there are times where removal is appropriate, it is also true that on many occasions, asbestos is safer when left alone and managed appropriately.

«Asbestos that remains undisturbed presents no risk.”

Clydebank and Old Kilpatrick schools:

  • Carleith Primary School
  • Clydemuir Primary School
  • Edinbarnet Primary School
  • Gavinburn Primary School and EE & CCC
  • Kilpatrick Primary School
  • Linnvale Primary School and EE & CCC
  • Our Holy Redeemer’s Primary School
  • Our Lady of Loretto Primary School
  • St Joseph’s Primary School
  • Whitecrook Primary School & Cunard School

North-west Glasgow schools:

  • Knightswood Secondary School
  • Bankhead Primary School
  • Blairdardie Primary School [getting new building]
  • Cloverbank Nursery
  • Corpus Christi Primary School
  • Drummore Primary School
  • Garscadden Primary School [now closed]
  • Langfaulds Primary School
  • Onslow Drive Day Nursery
  • Pikeman Nursery
  • Scotstoun Primary School
  • St Brendan’s Primary School [now closed]
  • St Ninian’s Primary School
  • St Paul’s (Whiteinch) Primary School
  • Whiteinch Primary School
  • Yoker Primary School [now closed]

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