Asbestos removal program spend at 70m and rising
THE Government has spent nearly 70m removing asbestos from schools, Government buildings, and military establishments around the country, the Irish Independent has learned.
While the schools' program is 75pc complete, the removal of the potentially dangerous asbestos from Government buildings is only 40pc complete and the costs associated with the removal and reinstatement of new, clean materials will continue to mount for some time to come.
The Government started the program, to remove asbestos from all public buildings in 1999, and in the five years to date, it has spent a total of 68m.
It was originally believed the program costs would not top 30m, but they have greatly exceeded that.
So far this year 16.5m of State coffers have gone on ridding buildings of asbestos which can cause asbestosis or scarring of the lungs and even cancer.
It is understood that in most cases the vast bulk of the costs are not related to the removal of the substance but to the reinstatement of new materials such as roof tiles.
A spokeswoman for the Office of Public Works (OPW), which is in charge of the removal program, said the Department of Education spent 55m in ridding the country's primary and post-primary schools of asbestos.
In total 4,000 schools were surveyed with asbestos found in one-third of them. The schools' program is now 75pc complete, according to the OPW.
Some 800 Government buildings nationwide were surveyed although these were deemed to be of "lower risk" than the schools. To date, 40pc of these 800 have been surveyed with asbestos found in around one-third of them.
The OPW has spent 10m removing asbestos from these buildings and installing new materials. As part of the review, 50 military establishments were included in the program. It is understood this part of the program is 90pc complete.