Clarity demanded in regulations on asbestos removal

25 April 2007

Clarity demanded in regulations on asbestos removal

SP Member of Parliament Remi Poppe is demanding more clarity in the regulations governing the removal of asbestos, which is highly carcinogenic. Poppe has spoken at some length with the environmental police, local authority inspectors and Labour Inspectorate, who in their own colourful description have to cope with 'legislation which resembles a plate of spaghetti'. Poppe has today lodged a report of his findings with Parliament and the public health minister, including a request that the government work closely with the enforcement agencies to work towards better enforcement of the rules.

Remi PoppeThe number of reports of asbestos contamination has recently been growing. Removal of asbestos by private firms and building firms lacking the necessary expertise and qualifications leads to the freeing of carcinogenic fibres into the air in apartments and buildings. Poppe has discussed the problem with enforcement officers from local authorities, the environmental police and Labour Inspectorate, who blame it in large part on the lack of clarity in the regulations. “Especially the Asbestos Removal Order system must be improved, but also aspects of labour law, building regulations and the law on environmental management, which all contain numerous rules regarding asbestos removal which are creating uncertainty,” he says. “It's all very difficult even for the enforcement agencies to fathom, let alone private firms or ordinary building contractors.”

Many local authorities have little or no expertise to call on in offering advice to such firms. “So contamination by asbestos is caused by lack of knowledge,” says Poppe. “People living in or near the affected buildings, including children, continue to be exposed to high concentrations of asbestos fibres as a result, running an avoidable increased risk of cancer. Local authorities need to ensure that they are better informed.” Poppe is asking the minister to work with the Union of Dutch Local Authorities to appoint an asbestos supervisor in each council district.

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