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DEVELOPER FAILED TO CARRY OUT ASBESTOS SURVEY

Court imposes fine and community service on errant property developer

A property developer client exposed workmen to risk from asbestos by failing to identify the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) prior to allowing work to start on on a nightclub refurbishment in Wrexham.

Michael Murton, 36, of Bewdley, near Kidderminster, instructed contractors to remove sprayed coating containing amosite (brown asbestos) from steel beams while refurbishing the nightclub. The workers were exposed to asbestos between 11 and 24 February 2010 at 33-35 Brook Street, Wrexham.

Investigators found Mr Murton had failed to survey the property before the work started. This led to the unlicensed and uncontrolled removal of the asbestos-containing material and its subsequent spread in and around the building.

HSE and Environment Agency act in concert

Michael Murton, of Bewdley, near Kidderminster previously pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 8(1), 11(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 at Mold Magistrates Court.

He also pleaded guilty to an offence contrary to Regulation 19 of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005, two duty of care offences contrary to Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of treating and disposing of asbestos in a manner likely to cause harm to human health or pollution of the environment contrary to Section 33 (1)(c) Environmental Protection Act 1990. These charges were brought by the Environment Agency Wales.

At Mold Crown Court he was given a suspended sentence of eight months for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations. He was also given a 12 month suspended sentence for breaching Section 33 (1)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and eight months suspended sentence for the offence contrary to Regulation 19 of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005.

Mr Murton was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service and to pay costs of £10,000 over two years.

HSE Inspector, Debbie John, said:

“This is a serious incident and one that could have easily been avoided.

“Had Mr Murton surveyed the property for the presence of asbestos prior to the start of construction work, the sprayed coating would have been identified and arrangements made for its controlled removal by an HSE-licensed contractor.

“Instead, Mr Murton; construction workers; waste management contractors and others were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos-containing materials.”

Speaking after the case, Environment Agency Wales officer Sally Connah, said:

“There are specific rules and laws around the disposal of any waste, but specifically hazardous substances like asbestos. If we do not enforce these laws people’s health and the environment can be put at risk.

“Any hazardous material has to be treated and disposed of correctly. If anyone is concerned about any waste material they think could be being treated illegally they should contact our incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”

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