Pupils 'exposed to asbestos'
SIX hundred pupils and staff at an Essex secondary school were exposed to asbestos during building work, a court heard yesterday .The asbestos was revealed when windows at the Stanway School, Colchester, were replaced three years ago – but the danger was not discovered until it was too late.
By Juliette Maxam
SIX hundred pupils and staff at an Essex secondary school were exposed to asbestos during building work, a court heard yesterday .
The asbestos was revealed when windows at the Stanway School, Colchester, were replaced three years ago – but the danger was not discovered until it was too late.
Yesterday the two companies responsible for carrying out the work appeared before Colchester Magistrates' Court charged with failing to ensure their own employees and pupils and staff at the school were not exposed to asbestos.
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EC Harris Human Resources, of London, pleaded guilty to one charge, while Clivnars , a windows company of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, admitted two counts of exposing their workmen and pupils and staff at the school to asbestos.
It was not specified at yesterday's proceedings what type of asbestos was involved.
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Geoff Knipe , prosecuting, said: "This case concerns the presence of asbestos in Stanway School, something which wasn't discovered until it was too late because a large amount of window replacement had taken place that resulted in the spread of asbestos fibres throughout the building and the potential exposure of a large number of people to asbestos fibres.
"Those who were most exposed were the workmen from Clivnars fitting the windows. Those next most exposed were the Stanway School cleaners. Lower down than them, but still significant, were the teachers, technical staff and 600 pupils."
Mr Knipe said: "The defendants accept they're responsible for the incident. What's not yet agreed between the parties is the extent of risk that was generated."
The charges relate to the months between July 2000 and April 2001 for EC Harris Human Resources and September 2000 and April 2001 for Clivnars.
The case was adjourned until May 7, when it will be decided when and where the sentencing hearing should go ahead.
A spokeswoman from Stanway School said there would be no comment until after the sentencing has taken place.
A spokesman from Essex County Council also declined to comment, saying the matter was being dealt with by the school.