06 May 2005


Asbestos fears

The discovery of asbestos at Breda House high-rise flats has shocked and angered long-term residents of the Belvoir estate who were unaware of its existence and say they have been “ left in the dark” by the Housing Executive.

People living in the area woke up to men in white suits removing asbestos from the top-floor flats last week, despite having never been informed of the material’s very existence in their homes or its removal under the instruction of the local Housing Executive office.

It is understood that though residents of the top-floor flats have been rehoused, over half of Breda House residents still remain living in the lower floors.

Harry Steeson, a retired pensioner and a resident of Breda House said, “There are men here walking about in white suits just like they are from space but we weren’t even informed about it. People here are very concerned. There wasn’t even any meeting called about the dangers of the asbestos removal. Our fears haven’t been alleviated, no meeting has been called to tell us what is going on.”

Mr Steeson said people in Belvoir were growing more concerned by the day about being kept in the dark over the removal of the substance notorious for its potentially deadly health implications. A spokesman for Castlereagh Housing Executive confirmed that people who had been living in the flats had not been told of the material’s existence or kept up to speed on its removal.

The spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, consultation on this scheme, involving major improvements, had been completed before the asbestos survey was carried out. As a result of an asbestos survey, which is now standard practice, trace elements of asbestos have been found in Breda House.”

After the South Belfast News contacted Castlereagh Housing Executive they agreed to “contact all residents to advise them of the nature of the additional work being carried out.” The spokesman added: “The asbestos removal will be undertaken under strict Health and Safety Regulations.”

Gordon Rutledge of the Belvoir Housing Forum said, “We haven’t heard anything about this, it has come as a complete shock. I will be confronting the Executive over this. We will certainly be bringing it up with the relevant authorities. At some level it should have been discussed and people should have been informed.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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