'Scale and audacity of this crime is shocking' says Fenland Council left to remove large quantities of asbestos dumped by a Fens river

PUBLISHED: 13:54 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:17 25 March 2019

Flytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river.,
B1098, Chatteris
 Monday 25 March 2019. 
Picture: TERRY HARRIS

Flytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river., B1098, Chatteris Monday 25 March 2019. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

© Terry Harris

A clean up operation costing thousands of pounds is under way to clear 12 bags of asbestos dumped on the river bank in a remote part of the Fens.

Twelve bags of asbestos are  dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMANTwelve bags of asbestos are dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMAN

Witnesses are being urged to come forward after the dangerous asbestos, left bagged up in builders’ merchant sacks, was dumped near Manea.

A Fenland District Council spokesman said: “The scale and audacity of this crime is shocking and will cost several thousands of pounds to clear up.

“Exposure to asbestos can also be a serious health hazard so we are working with our partners, including the Environment Agency, to investigate the incident, gather evidence and ensure the waste is removed as quickly as possible.

“Witnesses are the key to helping us identify who is responsible and we would appeal for anyone with information to get in touch with us.

Flytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river.,
B1098, Chatteris
 Monday 25 March 2019. 
Picture: TERRY HARRISFlytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river., B1098, Chatteris Monday 25 March 2019. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

“We are committed to catching those who fly tip in our district and would urge people to report any such activity that appears suspicious.”

The bags of asbestos were dumped beside the river at Byall Fen Drove where the Sixteen Foot Bank meets the Forty Foot Bank.

Ryszard Warman, who spotted the asbestos and reported it, said: “All 12 bags are full of asbestos. I’ve reported it to the Environment Agency, Fenland District Council and Fenland Police.

“Hopefully the more people that know about it the sooner it can be sorted and hopefully the people who dumped it caught.”

Twelve bags of asbestos are  dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMANTwelve bags of asbestos are dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMAN

Fenland Police held an online open forum at the weekend about issues worrying local people and the dumped asbestos was among things raised.

A police spokesman said: “I’ve seen pictures on a private message during this engagement.

“It’s absolutely horrendous. This is a matter for Fenland District Council who investigates fly tipping.”

The Environment Agency received a notification of the illegal dumping of asbestos and are working with Fenland District Council, who are removing the waste.

Flytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river.,
B1098, Chatteris
 Monday 25 March 2019. 
Picture: TERRY HARRISFlytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river., B1098, Chatteris Monday 25 March 2019. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

A EA spokesman said: “Waste crime can cause serious pollution to the environment and put communities at risk.

“Waste companies, local authorities and businesses all have a responsibility to check what happens to their waste.

“We urge people to dispose of asbestos using a registered waste carrier.

“Anyone who has information about this incident, where the waste came from, or the vehicle and individuals responsible, can contact our Icident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Twelve bags of asbestos are  dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMANTwelve bags of asbestos are dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMAN

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said: “Asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year, this is more than the number of people killed on the road.

“Around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure.

“However, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.

“When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air.

Twelve bags of asbestos are  dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMANTwelve bags of asbestos are dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMAN

“When these fibres are inhaled they can cause serious diseases. These diseases will not affect you immediately, they often take a long time to develop, but once diagnosed, it is often too late to do anything.”

• Do you know who dumped this asbestos? Get in touch, anonymously if required, to kath.sansom@archant.co.uk or john.elworthy@archant.co.uk.

• To report information email streetscene@fenland.gov.uk.

Twelve bags of asbestos are  dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMANTwelve bags of asbestos are dumped at the bottom of the Sixteen Foot Bank where the river joins the Forth Foot drain, near to Byall Fen Drove. Picture: RYSZARD WARMAN

Flytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river.,
B1098, Chatteris
 Monday 25 March 2019. 
Picture: TERRY HARRISFlytippers dump 12 x 1 ton bags of asbestos near river., B1098, Chatteris Monday 25 March 2019. Picture: TERRY HARRIS

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