Response from Peter Collingwood, Inspector, Health and Safety Executive - 14.10.2002

Health & Safety Executive
East and South East Division HM Principal Inspector: Dave Rothety

OurRef: PCC/030220831
Date: 14 October 2002

Telephone House Neighbours Association
37 Church Road
Kent TN1 1JT

Dear Ms Quinnell,

Re: Telephone House, Church Rd, Tunbridge Wells

Thank you for your letter of the 7th October.

In respect of you allegation of illegal removal of asbestos from the building the Health and Safety Executive are satisfied that there was no illegal removal of asbestos from the building structure; our reasons for believing this were set out in my previous letter. One of the things that the specialist inspectors, when visiting the above building, were looking for was to see whether there was any evidence that building materials had been removed from the building that could have contained asbestos. Unless asbestos containing materials had been removed and replaced by other materials there would clearly be evidence that materials had been removed - there was no evidence of this. As said in my previous letter; (and there is nothing more that I can add to this) -
"The main structure of the building was very much intact, with carpets, kitchen equipment, partition walls, etc., still being in place. There was some damage that had been caused by vandalism, but there was no evidence of materials having been removed that could contain asbestos. Other than for the vandalism the building looked very much like any other empty office building would be expected to look while it was in the process of being sold with just its fixtures and fittings having been removed."
I also explained that the asbestos containing materials that were listed on BT's records were still in the building when we inspected it and therefore we have concluded that no illegal removal of asbestos took place.

I also informed you that HSE had been notified that the asbestos materials that were in the building were due to be removed at the beginning of October and your letter confirms this work was carried out. When certain types of asbestos materials, such as pipe lagging (this was the main type to be found in Telephone House) are to be removed then the work area has to be enclosed and the work is carried out in an enclosure under negative pressure. The asbestos materials that were being removed were in the basement boiler room and it is normal practice to keep the enclosure as small as practicable, as this will keep to a minimum the amount of enclosure material that needs to be disposed off as contaminated waste and keeps to a minimum the area that will need to be cleaned and decontaminated after the asbestos containing material has been removed. The copy of the method statement, we were sent along with the notification of the work, shows that the contractor was only intending to enclose the boiler room and the neighbouring rooms and this would be sufficient to comply with the requirements of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations - we would not expect to see windows or doors sealed other than if they form part of the enclosure. We did not visit Telephone House during the removal of the asbestos materials from the building.

In respect of your request for a copy of the BT asbestos records, I cannot provide you with a copy of these documents and would suggest that you contact BT as they may be able to release them to you. I was provided with a copy by BT's 'Customer Service Centre', tel. 01252 352414.

Yours sincerely
Peter Collingwood
H.M. Inspector of Health and Safety

c.c. TWBC

What was removed from Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, in February 2002?