The fight against the planned disposal of 645,000 tons of asbestos and other hazardous waste at Stowey Quarry in Chew Valley goes on!

Following the handing in of a petition of more than 4, 400 Somerset and local area community signatures to the Bath & North East Somerset Council by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, the decision date on the planning application, which was set for 29th August, was postponed for a second time.

An original application, which first came to light 12 months earlier, had also been reversed in July due to procedural errors. The plan is to use Stowey Quarry as storage for so-called “stable non-reactive hazardous waste”, which could present a real danger due to the nearby location of the Chew Valley reservoir providing 50 million litres of water to the surrounding area.

The Environment Agency has stated the “the risk to the ground water has not been sufficiently established, ”nor the contents of the in-fill material and the possibility of contamination been “adequately defined” in the latest planning application. Up to 150,000 tonnes of white ‘chrysotile’ asbestos waste ( bonded with cement) could be dumped every year until 2027.

Despite increased asbestos awareness to the deadly health risks of all mineral types, chrysotile or white asbestos has always been considered a ‘low-risk’ category. The fibres continued to be used by the building industry in insulation wall boards (AIB) and soffits, cement products, such as corrugated roofing and roof shingles after the first asbestos bans were introduced in the mid 1980s.

White asbestos can still be found in many thousands of public buildings and commercial premises around the UK, including schools, hospitals and factory units built or renovated up until chrysotile imports were banned in 1999. A strict procedure for its containment, management and disposal is outlined in the Control Of Asbestos Regulations, whenever it is discovered.

However, it appears that the dangers of asbestos exposure continue to be either misunderstood, ignored or downplayed. There are not infrequent court cases reported of illegal flytipping of waste asbestos or failure to carry out mandatory asbestos survey procedures by building and demolition contractors.

Any contact with asbestos runs the real risk of inhaling fibre dust, which can settle permanently in the lung linings, eventually causing asbestosis disease of the turning tissue cells cancerous to form the fatal and incurable mesothelioma cancer.

The unusually long gestation period of up to 50 years often means that either mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms only appear when the disease has spread to an advanced stage and prognosis tends to be less than 6 months.

According to the Health And Safety Executive (HSE) more than 1.8 million people are still exposed to asbestos every year in the UK.

To read more about the protest to stop the Stowe quarry application, please click