Asbestos concerns at Clearwater

  • Clearwater Middle School (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Clearwater Middle School (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The grandmother of an 11-year-old girl due to start at an East End school next month said she was concerned about asbestos in the building.

Mary Faries heard a radio report last week about the presence of the cancer-causing material at Clearwater Middle School in St David’s.

She said that she was worried about the possible health impact on pupils and staff.

Ms Faries, 66, said: “We cannot expect our children to be going to an environment like that.

“There could be other families whose children are starting on September 10. They are away right now just like my family is, and haven’t heard the news.

“It’s just not good enough. Asbestos is serious.”

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, has stayed tight-lipped about what work was being done to remove the asbestos risk and if the school would open as scheduled for the new term.

Ms Faries, from Pembroke, has just bought new school uniforms for her granddaughter.

She said she had contacted the Department of Education about the issue yesterday and that the public deserved more information on what was happening.

She questioned whether remedial work at the school would be completed in time for the new school year and if the building would be safe.

Ms Faries said she feared that pupils would have to be relocated.

She said that pupils and staff should only return to the school if their safety could be guaranteed.

Ms Faries added: “I would like to think they would have experts going and reviewing this work.”

She added that she had raised the concerns not only for her family but for others as well.

Ms Faries said: “The more people that complain, maybe we might hear something.”

A two-day inspection of the school carried out in August 2017 by the Office of the Safety and Health Co-ordinator revealed that “suspected asbestos” had been found in a storeroom.

A report note said: “Confirmation testing requested; results being awaited.”

Inspections of all public schools were completed last year between September 17 and October 17.

The survey at Clearwater found that there were “ongoing potential asbestos exposure concerns” over the storeroom.

The findings of both reports were released to the public this March.

Mr Rabain was asked several questions about Clearwater last week.

They included questions on what work was being carried out, who the work was being performed by and if the school would be open on September 10.

Mr Rabain was also asked if any health problems that could be linked to asbestos had been reported.

Last night, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the material had been removed this summer by “a licensed abatement firm”.

She said the school would be inspected by an independent third party to ensure the school was safe to occupy.

She added that further details would be released once the inspection report was handed in.

Nakisha Burgess, the president of the Clearwater Parent Teacher Student Association, said questions on “this very sensitive matter” should be sent to the education department.

She added: “We are all looking for answers, and I believe this is where you should start.”

Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, said there was “real concern” that the asbestos-removal programme at the school was “woefully inadequate and should be better managed”.

He added that the problems at Clearwater were not new and highlighted that the school was not opened on time for the start of the new school year in 2010.

Mr Simons said: “The delay resulted because the then PLP government’s health and safety reports alleged that there were maintenance issues at the school, which included mould, asbestos, rotten wood in a room, and open ceilings to the air conditioner in the hallways.”

Mr Simons added that the teachers, pupils and staff at the school should not be exposed to health risks.

He said the Government should provide an update on work at the school.

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Published Aug 20, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 20, 2019 at 8:12 am)

Asbestos concerns at Clearwater

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