Answer from Marian O’Leary, director of OIL

by Gregor Prajs on 03/12/2013

Dear Mrs Sanchez Rodriguez,

As a parent myself, I can assure you that I fully understand the concerns of parents over the safety of their children and regret that the information session OIL organised on 12 November did not allay these concerns in a satisfactory way.

Asbestos is a complex and technical issue. In response to the concerns expressed by parents, the aim of the information session was to provide staff housed in the JMO and parents with children in the CPE 1 and 2 with information on the nature of asbestos, the potential health risks in case of exposure, and the measures in place to ensure that the buildings concerned continue to be asbestos safe buildings.

As regards the CPE1, the location of asbestos (in the outside walls of the building) is known. These locations are clearly defined in a report provided by a body certified by Inspection du Travail et des Mines (ITM), the so called asbestos inventory. The level of containment of the asbestos is also known and checked on a regular basis, to exclude any risk of asbestos release by degradation of the encapsulation, and to allow us to take any necessary corrective measures. This repertory of locations is systematically provided to all contractors hired to perform the necessary maintenance and other works in the buildings containing asbestos, to reduce the risk of inadvertent release during the works.

The 2011 incident proved the adequacy of the procedure in place on the one occasion when things did go wrong. On 28 September, a worker employed by a subcontractor of the owner was not aware of the asbestos inventory prior to starting the works, and inadvertently drilled through a plaque containing asbestos in the external wall. This resulted in readings of asbestos fibres above the recommended threshold of 500 fibres/m³ in that particular room. The children in the CPE1 were at no point in time exposed to asbestos. The room (kitchenette) was sealed off immediately and no asbestos fibres were detected in any of the adjacent rooms. As a precautionary measure, the children were moved out of the building and housed in the CPE IV during the time the asbestos removal works took place in the kitchenette, and only returned to the building once it was declared asbestos safe by a certified body, following further tests after the cleaning up.

Should a situation arise where there is a risk for the health of the children, immediate action would be taken, including if necessary, moving them to alternative accommodation. This is not the case at the moment.

I hope that these clarifications may serve to reassure you and the other parents.

Best regards,

Marian O’Leary

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