EXCLUSIVE: Asbestos fears spark air tests at Basildon's Hovefields caravan site

By YA Reporter in Local People

AIR TESTS have been ordered at Hovefields caravan site due to residents’ fears they may have inhaled asbestos.

The site is directly next door to the Tovi Eco Plant, where airborne fibres of asbestos were picked up by tests in December.

Essex Council has insisted there is no evidence the airborne particles left the waste plant, saying it has a negative pressure system which sucks air into the building rather than blowing it out.

But residents have said that air vents on the building periodically open, causing a foul odour to descend on the caravan site.

They contacted the Yellow Advertiser the day after it exclusively revealed the asbestos contamination, saying they feared that if the particles carrying the odour could reach their homes, the asbestos may have done too.

The fibres were picked up in air tests carried out on December 20, but the results were not known by waste authority Essex Council until January 27. Days later, Basildon’s bin men were banned from entering the site due to the risk of exposure.

In a confidential internal memo, leaked to the YA, Essex Council said the asbestos may have entered the site via ’unauthorised trade waste’ before a crackdown in October – meaning that by the time the bin men were eventually banned, they could have been breathing in the fibres for more than three months.

Despite ’assurances’ from Essex Council, residents at Hovefields say they fear their children may have inhaled the deadly substance.

Susan Friend, 33, said: “We are the closest residents to it and we found out about the asbestos from your paper. Nobody came down and told us anything. We haven’t been given any explanation at all. It’s as if we don’t exist.

“Has it escaped from the building? As soon as they have a fire alarm or something, these air vents pop up and the smell pours out over us. We have to cover our noses and mouths because it’s so strong. Could the asbestos have come over with that?

“The man I spoke to at Essex Council said he couldn’t give me a guarantee, but said they may come down a fortnight from now and so some air testing. I said, ’Shouldn’t you have done that when you first got the results back?’”

Essex Council has confirmed air tests will be conducted at Hovefields.

An Essex Council spokesman said: “Essex County Council is working together with the operators of the waste plant to develop a test plan and commission some local air quality monitoring within the next few weeks.

“This will include testing at the Hovefields site in order to allay residents’ concerns. We have already been in contact with some Hovefields residents and provided them with advice and reassurance.”

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