Residents’ asbestos fears in East Ham flats

East Ham residents are worrying for their health while living in a council block undergoing asbestos removal work.

Specialist contractors are carrying out refurbishment work on Priory Court on Priory Road which involves getting rid of a small amount of asbestos, a common building insulator which became controversial after it was found to cause serious health hazards.

Residents say the workmen have protective clothing and separation materials while carrying out work but they are carrying on as usual, with no special conditions in place for their safety.

One female resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Most of us are concerned. Whenever we bring it up with the Council, they just say ‘there’s nothing to worry about, it’s only three per cent.’

“We’ve had no safety advice, no correspondence like that, they just say that it’s not a health risk and everyone is safe.

“But there are men in white suits with protective clothing and goggles and plastic sheets with little doors in and we’re just walking in and out like normal.”

She said residents plan to hold meeting soon to appoint a spokesperson and voice their concerns as a group.

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Another man also spoke to the Recorder anonymously after fearing for his elderly parents who he visits regularly at Priory Court.

He said: “I’m round there daily and I don’t want them or myself to be at risk. I’ve been to everyone but no one’s come back with anything to reassure me.”

But Newham Council said the works were necessary and council officers, along with the contractors, have met with residents to explain the nature of the work while a resident liaison manager is regularly on site to respond to any concerns.

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “External textured coatings to the communal staircase areas and balconies are currently being removed.

“As these coatings sometimes contain traces of asbestos, tests were carried out which have found there is minimal health risk to those residents living in the block and evacuation is not necessary during removal.

“In line with statutory regulations set by the Health and Safety Executive, contractors carrying out these works are wearing protective clothing to implement the precautionary removal.

“Air tests by external experts are carried out regularly. These precautions are taken to ensure the safety of residents and contractors.”

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