Committee of Employment and Social affairs
A European Parliament report on asbestos now sets out a practical strategy for managing the risks, says MEP Phil Bennion, who pushed for substantial changes to earlier drafts.
In a resolution passed by the European Parliament, MEPs call for an EU strategy to deal with asbestos problems, which, despite an EU-wide ban, is still found as a roofing or insulation material in many farm and industrial buildings, water pipe lagging, older trains and ships.
The amended report's proposals include a public registry of buildings containing asbestos in all EU member states and moves to ensure that workers who remove it are fully qualified and trained.
The World Heath Organisation estimates that there are up to 30,000 disease cases caused by asbestos each year in the EU, mostly due to exposure many years ago.
Phil Bennion MEP said the revised report called for an extension of best practice in dealing with asbestos and was a now 'a practical blueprint for action.'
He said: "There had been proposals in earlier drafts of the report to call for the removal of all asbestos from every building by 2020. This was completely impractical and ignored the many billions it would cost to remove from industrial or farm buildings built with asbestos containing materials (ACMS).
"These materials were very widely used in Britain and most other EU countries for several decades before the risks were known.
"After extensive negotiations and amendments, we now have a practical blueprint for action without imposing huge costs on farmers or businesses with buildings in use which contain asbestos. The material is very dangerous if disturbed but can be safely managed in situ with the right training and best practice, which the report now specifies.
"The proposals concentrate on public sector buildings like schools and hospitals, sound risk management and the need to phase in asbestos removal during the refurbishment cycle of buildings and roofing materials.
"MEPs are also calling for better support from the European Commission to national authorities, some of which have struggled with the tough safety requirements of asbestos management and removal.
"The EU can help ensure best practice in safety training for workers either maintaining structures which contain asbestos or removing it, to make sure the risk is as minimal as possible."
The report is not binding EU law, but sends a strong signal to the Commission and national governments that EU law should press for tough but practical safety requirements.
The resolution and adopted text are available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P7-TA-2013-93