Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (183)

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

182 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the arrangements or procedures that are in place for the safe removal and disposal of small amounts of asbestos (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6461/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

Primary responsibility for the management of any waste lies with the holder or producer of the waste. The Waste Management Acts 1996-2003 prohibit any person from holding, transporting, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution, defined in section 5 to include action which would to a significant extent endanger human health.

The European Communities (Protection of Workers)(Exposure to Asbestos) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 implement Article 7 of Council Directive 87/217/EEC on the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution by asbestos by amending the requirements of the plan, provided for in Article 12 of Directive 83/477/EEC, which must be prepared prior to any demolition work involving asbestos. The effect of the amending regulations is to ensure that the demolition of buildings, structures and installations containing asbestos and the removal therefrom of asbestos or materials containing asbestos fibres or dust do not cause significant environmental pollution; the regulations also provide for the protection of workers on the site. This plan must be made available on request to,inter alia, an inspector of the Health and Safety Authority.

In addition, the Air Pollution Act 1987 provides a basis for a local authority to monitor the nature, extent and effects of such emissions, including asbestos emissions, as the local authority may consider necessary for the performance of its functions under the Act or as they may be directed by the Minister to carry out.

The movement of hazardous waste, including asbestos waste, within the State is subject to a notification procedure, involving the provision of consignment notes to local authorities of dispatch and destination. The Waste Management (Movement of Hazardous Waste) Regulations 1998 also transpose EU requirements regarding the labelling of waste containers and the mixture of wastes. Article 7 of the Waste Management (Hazardous Waste) Regulations 1998 prohibits emissions of asbestos fibres or dust during transport of such waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, is responsible for waste licensing and is empowered under relevant waste management licensing regulations to attach conditions to licences to give effect to provisions of EU directives, including Council Directive 87/217/EEC on the prevention and reduction of environmental pollution by asbestos.

An information leaflet entitled Asbestos in your Home, Briefing Sheet 29, is available from ENFO, my Department's public information service on environmental matters. This includes advice on the maintenance of asbestos materials, and their removal and disposal. The leaflet advises the public to contact the Health and Safety Authority to obtain information on the handling and use of asbestos. Relevant advice on the disposal of asbestos would also be available on request from local authorities and the EPA.