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West End Primary asbestos scare ‘a precaution’

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Work has been carried out at West End Primary School to remove floor tiles as a precaution in case they contain asbestos.

Air samples have also been taken and are being sent overseas.

Last night the Ministry of Education confirmed that during an inspection on Wednesday some tiles were found to be coming up from the floor in a storeroom at the school.

The next day the health department and Bermuda Water Service visited the school, on Scott's Hill Road, Sandys. “After some discussion, it was decided that the best course of action was to remove the tiles in question in case they contained asbestos. Air samples were also taken. All works and samples collected were carried out due to the visual inspection finding,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

“The tiles in question were removed and the floor was encapsulated, removing all possibility of asbestos being present. This work was completed on Friday.”

The ministry said ceramic tiles are scheduled to be laid today, and air samples are being sent “overseas as per standard protocol”. It also emphasised that the abatement work was a precautionary measure solely based on visual inspection.

Parents and staff will be formally notified on Monday, and the ministry said it is confident the school will be safe to receive students and staff on Tuesday.

The ministry's statement came after two photographs that appeared to reveal asbestos work at the Sandys school were sent to The Royal Gazette yesterday. The first, bearing a Ministry of Health letterhead and dated September 4, showed a permit for asbestos abatement at the school, located on Scott's Hill Road.

It said that AMR Services was authorised to start asbestos abatement on that day and complete the work by yesterday.

The permit, signed for the chief environmental health officer, added that the work would tackle the “lifting and replacement of loose vinyl floor tiles”.

It added: “An Asbestos Abatement Completions should be issued after a satisfactory inspection has been performed by Occupational Safety & Health.”

The second photo showed what looked like a plastic tented area that had the permit taped to it.

Teachers have already expressed concern over safety after the discovery of asbestos at Prospect Primary School, in Devonshire, and Clearwater Middle School, in St David's, earlier this summer.

A ministry of education spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday that work on asbestos had been completed on three areas inside Prospect Primary.

She added at the time that work to tackle asbestos at Clearwater continued. The spokeswoman explained: “Some additional abatement works were needed, in one area of the cafeteria.”

She said in an update yesterday that Prospect Primary and Clearwater “are expected to be open on Tuesday as scheduled”.

The spokeswoman added that abatement work at Prospect Primary had been completed and that school staff had been back inside the building.

She said: “The abatement work has also been completed for Clearwater.”

Questions about a whether a back-up plan was in place for pupils and staff should Prospect Primary and Clearwater not be opened went unanswered.

To view the abatement permit, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Important notice: the asbestos permit for West End Primary School (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Important notice: the asbestos permit for West End Primary School (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 07, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 07, 2019 at 7:55 am)

West End Primary asbestos scare ‘a precaution’

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