Asbestos cement being washed up on North Kent beaches

It has been reported in the local Kent press that for several months asbestos cement waste material has been washed up on the North Kent beaches of the Isle of Sheppey. The local council, Swale, have since August, when they were first told of the asbestos, collected some 15 kilograms of the waste material.Analysis of the waste has shown it to be made up of chrysotile asbestos.

Local resident Mr Barry Day is reported in the local newspaper, the Kent Messenger, as calling for the beaches to be closed until all of the waste material has been safely collected. This is a picture provided by Mr Day showing a piece of the waste that he found:

asbestosSheppey

The local council are planning to continue regular checks of the beaches, but at present not to close them. It is extremely concerning that Public Health England, who were consulted by Swale Council about the dangers posed by the waste asbestos, advised that the material was a low risk product and unlikely to pose a significant risk to health. I wonder if that advice concerning the danger of chrysotile was based on actual independent scientific research, or just acceptance of a perception that has been built up over a number of years, that actually lacks a solid scientific basis to it. Another aspect of concern relates to the origin of the material, with it clearly likely that it was dumped illegally into the sea in UK waters, and as such warrants investigation.

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