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'New probe' into school asbestos
AN investigation is to be launched into whether children were exposed to asbestos at a school, it is claimed.
Three classes and 18 staff at St Mary's Church of England Primary in The Drive, Walthamstow, moved to the former Warwick School site in Brooke Road in September 2011, before the toxic fibre was discovered there during the summer holidays.
The council has always insisted that the asbestos was disturbed during building works when no pupils were at the site, meaning it is extremely unlikely they were exposed.
But a report into the affair found there was a "high probability" that construction workers were exposed to the deadly fibre.
According to campaigners, the council promised to hold a new investigation during a recent meeting with families.
Parent Eleanor Knott wrote on a blog that the authority expected findings to be published in January next year.
Construction work was carried out during both the Easter holidays in April 2012 and July 2012, but the asbestos was only identified in the summer.
She wrote: "The previous report...implied that demolition workers had been exposed but not children, but this was based on samples taken in July 2012, not before then."
All classes at St Mary's were due to move to Brooke Road this September as part of a £3 million scheme to expand and treble its intake, but that was postponed following the asbestos discovery.
Children are now either being sent to the former Edinburgh School or staying at The Drive site.
A copy of an initial August 2012 report into asbestos at the school reveals a refurbishment and demolition research by Redhill in 2011 warned that further investigation may be required to check for asbestos.
But it adds that it is "unknown whether this report was read in its entirety".
It also states that some school staff and cleaners may also have been exposed to small amounts of asbestos, but said they are unlikely to be at any substantial risk.
The council has described the report, by Airborne Environmental Consultants Ltd on behalf of NPS London, as independent, but NPS is part-owned by the council.
Cabinet member for the economy, Cllr Mark Rusling, is listed as a current director, as is council chief executive Martin Esom.
Former directors include council leader Cllr Chris Robbins, Cllr Afzal Akram and Cllr Terry Wheeler, along with former council chief executive Andrew Kilburn.
Waltham Forest Council owns a 20 per cent stake in the firm.
The Guardian is awaiting a comment from the council.
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