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Asbestos delays major refurbishment and demolition projects

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The discovery of asbestos containing materials has delayed progress on a major refurbishment project in Tyneside and on a high-profile demolition job in Aberdeen.

The substance was a commonly used building material between the 1950s and 1990s, and is likely to be found in any commercial or domestic property constructed during that period.

Contractors working on the refurbishment of the famous Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels, which run between Howdon and Jarrow under the River Tyne, have identified large quantities of asbestos in escalator shafts on the site.

They must now undertake significant asbestos removal work to ensure the safety of the public before the tunnels can re-open.

Paul Fenwick, project director for Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “Conditions in the tunnel have proved a lot worse than we anticipated and major works to treat asbestos containing materials, the presence of which we could have had no knowledge of before the works started, are now necessary if the tunnels are to continue to be an important transport link for future generations.”

The refurbishment project was expected to be completed by August 2014, but the tunnels will now be closed until February 2015 to allow the asbestos management work to be carried out.

Another project to be delayed by the unexpected discovery of asbestos containing materials is the demolition of Aberdeen City Council’s former headquarters, St Nicholas House.

The substance was found in some of the divisions between units of windows in the tower block, which was built in 1968.

Council officials have now called in asbestos removal specialists to dispose of the material and ensure the demolition can be completed safely.

Any organisation planning a refurbishment or demolition project should commission an asbestos survey from a specialist before beginning work.

The surveyor will identify the presence and location of asbestos containing materials and recommend what steps need to be taken to ensure workers are not exposed to asbestos fibres once the project commences.

For more information about asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys, please contact BLS Asbestos.

Published: 24th February 2014