●Report recommends school demolition
●‘Serious risk’ from asbestos at site
●Ten times acceptable levels found on desks, window ledges & classroom walls

CWMCARN High School has a “serious risk” of exposure to asbestos fibres and Caerphilly council should consider demolishing the building, according to a report.

Santia Asbestos Management Limited produced a report at the request of the council which states there is evidence of widespread contamination within the ceiling voids at the school building, which was closed down in October.

It says that more than ten times the accepted airborne fibre levels are evident when some of the heaters are used.

The report says asbestos dust or fibres were found on work surfaces, window ledges and other “horizontal surfaces”.

There is also evidence of continued damage to asbestos insulated boards within classrooms caused by chairs and tables scraping, as well as through the stapling and pinning of posters and schoolwork.

The company also found conclusive evidence that there had been asbestos removal in the past and that the clearance standard in the Control of Asbestos regulations has not been met.

The report says that further exposure is highly likely based on the findings and that the council should consider knocking the building down.

The report states that swab tests and surveys were carried out in the school and found that air was flowing from the ceiling void to occupied areas and that ceiling tiles were being disturbed by gusts of wind as doors and windows were opened.

Heaters were also found to be possibly blowing asbestos fibres into occupied areas.

The report states that air tests were carried out with some heaters which were used for four hours in the empty school.

Results detected airborne fibre levels of up to 7,000 fibres per cubic metre. The accepted level for schools is 500 fibres per cubic metre.

The rooms affected in the school were immediately closed off as soon as it was known about the risk.

The report states: “We are of the opinion that it is not feasible to continue operating the school in the current condition based on the risks imposed on occupants.”

It adds that based on the potential costs to continue the school’s operation, the council should “consider the removal of all asbestos containing materials so far as reasonably practicable followed by the subsequent demolition of Cwmcarn High School”.

The Argus reported that 960 pupils from the school are being taught at the former Coleg Gwent Ebbw Vale campus after head teacher Jacqui Peplinski said the only workable proposal from the school’s point of view was to temporarily relocate the entire school.

The report states it is not possible to quantify the amount of asbestos fibres released and over what period of time.

Councillors are to discuss the report at a council meeting today.

 ‘Issues not addressed’

A SIGNIFICANT number of asbestos-containing materials were identified from an existing management survey conducted in 2009, according to the report.

The report states that historic information along with current findings showed that asbestos within the school has not been managed effectively.

The findings also show that a number of issues have not been addressed, resulting in damaged or unsealed asbestos insulated boards being visible, contamination below the ceiling voids and contamination within heaters.