Asbestos Discovery In North Devon Highlights Continued Dangers


The Law Of... guarding against asbestos exposure

With the discovery of asbestos at a construction site in North Devon, Helen Grady – Partner and Industrial Disease specialist at Simpson Millar LLP – explains why exposure to asbestos should be a serious concern to local residents.


Housing Development Stores Contaminated Material

North Devon Council has made the admission that a housing development in Fremington, is storing material that has been contaminated by asbestos. This was during a consultation with residents, who were keen to express their concerns over the proximity of the deadly material.

A development is underway to transform former Fremington Army Camp into a 277-home estate, however the safety of the plans have been called into question after samples tested at the former army camp has revealed soil at the site is contaminated with asbestos.

With the risk of mesothelioma high in any case of asbestos exposure, Helen expresses her concern over the news:

"I am very concerned by developments being carried out on sites where there is evidence of previous asbestos exposure."

"The location of this development makes me recall the very sad case of Kirsty List – a 31 year old mother – who went to school in a local area of North Devon and has been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to previous asbestos exposure."

Previous Exposure In North Devon

Residents of Fremington voiced their concerns over the discovery of asbestos contamination at a local site and with Helen handling a case of possible exposure in nearby Holsworthy, the importance of recognising the dangers of asbestos exposure cannot be overstated.

Debbie Merritt, Kirsty's mother, explained why seeing her daughter contract mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure was hard to take:

"We find ourselves in a devastating position as a family. For any mother to find their child diagnosed with cancer is absolutely the most dreadful thing, but to discover that the diagnosis is mesothelioma which is linked to past exposure to asbestos dust is very hard for us to deal with."

Kirsty's family suspect a number of locations could be to blame for exposing Kirsty to asbestos while she was growing up, with a previous family home potentially being built on a site that had previous exposure to asbestos – it is these circumstances that cause Debbie to send a warning to those in Fremington:

"It is stories such as the new housing estate at Fremington which really concern me, as people really need to be careful when dealing with contaminated sites."

Highlighting Continued Dangers

Due to the prevalence of asbestos in building sites up until its full and final ban in 1999, asbestos continues to pose health risks, as it is well known many buildings built before the ban contain asbestos.

As the situation in Fremington highlights, even new buildings and developments run the risk of asbestos exposure, with previous sites and buildings running the risk of contaminating the local area.

Helen explains:

"It is crucial that developers perform asbestos checks when building on old sites, as asbestos could have contaminated the ground of the area – in the case of Fremington asbestos contamination was found in a sample of soil."

"After decades of campaigning to ban this fatal material we cannot adopt a laid back attitude to asbestos – just because its usage in new buildings is banned it does not mean that exposure is no longer possible."

Advice On Asbestos Exposure

If you have concerns over asbestos exposure it is important that you seek legal advice from a specialist, as getting advice on how to research if you have been exposed is crucial.

At Simpson Millar, our team of industrial disease experts specialise in asbestos cases and will be able to provide a clear contingency plan for investigating whether you have been exposed to asbestos in the past.

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