A company has been recommended to remove and dispose of the asbestos material at the Poor Relief Department, in the sum of $474,408.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, made the disclosure during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on July 11.
"Work should commence in another two weeks due to the other procedures to be followed as stipulated by National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA)," Mr. Fagan said.
During a tour by a technical team from the Ministry, the garage area of the Poor Relief building was found to be covered with asbestos roofing material. It was inspected and a few noticeable holes in the asbestos roof were detected.
The issue of asbestos roofing material on the Fire Stations and the Poor Relief building has been in the media since April 2012, and has gained significant momentum leading to work-to-rule at the Fire Stations.
In the case of the Trench Town Fire Station, the firemen have been relocated since the detection of asbestos. The tender process has been completed and a contract has been signed for $1.1 million, and work should commence within the coming week.
"Over in Port Royal, the firemen at this station have since been relocated, following the detection of asbestos at the location. The sequence of events leading up to the tender process is still incomplete and this is the inspection from the Ministry of Labour to assess if the concentration threshold exceeds the limit ratio. Once this is done, within a few weeks or so, then the tender process will commence. Since the situation is one that requires urgent and immediate action, we do not see the process being prolonged," Mr. Fagan said.
He added that the asbestos roofing material will be replaced by five-inch thick reinforced concrete slabs.
In the meantime, Mr. Fagan noted that the removal and disposal of asbestos is a tedious and detailed process, “hence it is critical that the project be carefully executed. Our community’s safety is our priority."
He also informed that currently there are only four certified experts registered by NEPA who are qualified to undertake asbestos removal in Jamaica.
Asbestos is a Silicate mineral used commercially in some properties, but prolonged inhalation of the fibres can lead to serious illnesses, including malignant cancer.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter