Asbestos found at proposed asphalt site

The results of the latest environmental report could be a huge blow to the proposed asphalt plant project.

Asbestos sheeting:

Many thanks to Retired Hack for this report. In his own words.Ed

After months of denials, the PFI contractor planning a controversial asphalt plant on the banks of the Medina has been forced to admit that asbestos has been found on the landfill site they want to take over.

A specialist report commissioned by Eurovia Roadstone concludes: “It is likely that the asbestos containing material present was deposited as part of the landfill operation. It is therefore likely that additional asbestos containing materials could be encountered during the development of the site. Asbestos containing materials are therefore considered to represent a significant source of contamination with regard to human health.”

Risk to workers
Whilst the report states the risk to construction workers is moderate, and risk to local workers who take over the site once it is developed and those using neighbouring land is low, it could still be considered a huge blow to the entire project.

Local campaigners with long memories of the site had for months warned of the likelihood of asbestos being present. At the same time Eurovia insisted that “none had been found” – based on testing which, it transpired, did not include testing for asbestos.

Link to Highways PFI?
The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract, which the Isle of Wight Council Conservative administration regards as one of its greatest achievements, began on 1st April 2013 and sees the management of the Island’s roads handed to the consortium for the next 25 years.

The Council insists that its contract with Eurovia does not rely on the asphalt plant gaining planning consent. But Eurovia has consistently refused to say how it will source asphalt if it cannot develop the site near Cowes.

Councillors kept in the dark
The contract was approved by the Full Council last autumn at a time when the Environmental Health officers were recommending refusal of the plans. Councillors were not told of their concerns, and Ventnor independent councillor Chris Welsford, who tried to have the matter aired in the Chamber, was blocked from doing so by Council chairman Susan Scoccia.

The controversy has also seen the Council pitted against Island MP Andrew Turner, who has sharply criticised Eurovia for failing to address concerns raised by the Wight Residents Against Asphalt Plant (WRAP) campaign group. At the same time Council leader David Pugh was accusing WRAP of scaremongering.

The report
The consultant’s report, which was posted on the Council’s website late on Friday, is embedded for your convenience.

OnTheWight has requested a comment from Eurovia and will update once we hear back.

Image: Nick Sarebi under CC BY 2.0

Sunday, 7th April, 2013 1:34pm



Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Environment, Green Issues, Isle of Wight News, Newport, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. downwind resident

    7.Apr.2013 2:16pm

    It only takes a single fibre of asbestos to become lodged in one’s lung to develop cancer.

    One fibre of asbestos is one too many!

    This landfill site at Medina Wharf contaminated with years of asbestos waste should be sealed off by the IW Council now and never be disturbed again.

    The landowners (PD Ports) should refuse to allow Eurovia to buy or lease the landfill site from them let alone allow them to dig it up the asbestos and use the spoil as an acoustic bund for their noisy and toxic asphalt plant.

    This is simply a crazy planning application.

    Stop it now!

  2. James Luke

    7.Apr.2013 5:00pm

    The asbestos risk was only uncovered due to the diligence of the WRAP team.

    This is just one area of concern.

    WRAP are also asking questions about air quality, dust and noise pollution. Unfortunately, they are meeting the same denials on these issues. WRAP are insisting that proper tests are undertaken and that the fallacy of relying on controls is exposed.

    This application should have been rejected many, many months ago and questions need to be asked about the handling of this whole affair.

  3. retiredhack

    7.Apr.2013 6:20pm

    It’s worth pointing out that the risk levels (to human health) from the asbestos which has been found have specific definitions in the report, on a scale from “very high risk” to “very low risk”. So “low risk” does not mean no risk, or even very low risk. The definition of “low risk”, which in this case is applied to site operators and occupiers of adjacent land, is: “It is possible that harm could arise to a designated receptor from an identified hazard but it is likely that this harm, if realised, would at worst normally be mild.” You would have to ask the authors what mild asbestosis might be like.

    The defintion of “moderate risk”, which is applied to construction workers, is: “It is possible that harm could arise to a designated receptor from an identified hazard. However, it is either relatively unlikely that any such harm would be severe, or if any harm were to occur it is more likely that the harm would be relatively mild. Investigation is normally required to clarify risks and to determine potential liability. Some remedial works may be required in the long term.” In this case, the risk is considered sufficient for there to be a recommendation that contractors wear protective clothing.

    Look out for anyone trying to spin “low risk” as something not worth bothering about.

    • Sally Perry

      7.Apr.2013 7:00pm

      Thanks for that clarification on the risk levels Retired Hack.

    • James Luke

      7.Apr.2013 8:17pm

      Also worth noting that this contamination has been discovered despite a very limited evaluation of the site (the majority of the boreholes were at the periphery). A more thorough evaluation should now be undertaken to understand the full extent of the problem …. or the site should be left untouched.

      As Downwind Resident states, “it only takes a single fibre of asbestos to become lodged in one’s lung to develop cancer.”

  4. Happy Daze

    7.Apr.2013 10:04pm

    So who was it in the IW Council that suggested Eurovia built an asphalt plant on a landfill site known to be jam packed with life threatening asbestos waste?

    We need to know who was responsible for this travesty and why it has been perpetrated.

    As Downwind says this crazy planning application must be stopped NOW,

    • Black Dog

      8.Apr.2013 1:31pm

      The only way we will find out about this ridiculous application is via the ballot box on the 2nd of May

      I urge everyone to vote and tell all their friends to vote to ensure that David Pugh and his bunch of despots are not returned to County Hall

  5. Never mind ‘this application must be stopped NOW’, it should have been thrown out months ago, each time a valid objection was raised the present council allowed Eurovia extra time to attempt to counteract the objection this stinks of something like malpractice. Having grown up in Cowes in the 1940s and 50s, the landfill site was a playground for the kids of the neighbourhood and, of course, we saw what was dumped there but did not realie at the time just how dangerous much of it was.

  6. Maybe…just maybe the threat of huge legal actions against anyone messing with the site might put a halt to this fiasco… Obviously the council wont care that much.. and there will be claims of “it’s only a small risk” so lets carry on… but the long term effects should worry Eurovia from a legal standpoint as they now KNOW that asbestos is present and the HUGE costs of proper removal will be outside of their budget for this project… Fingers crossed!

  7. Trouble is, the current guidelines and code of practice for asbestos contaminated soil can soon be ovecome by certain companies with no scuples. Without an inspector being there 24/7 they will get away with it. I don’t hold out much hope of it being abandoned. Let’s face it ‘money talks’

    • downwind resident

      8.Apr.2013 5:51pm

      For the avoidance of doubt I have copied Paragraph 5.2.7. ‘Inorganics’ from the MB report below which leaves no doubt that the experts engaged by Eurovia have identified asbestos on this landfill site and they are expecting to find more asbestos if they look further.

      They also make it abundantly plain that this constitutes a ‘significant’ hazard to human health.
      ‘Asbestos containing materials (Chrysotile and Amosite fibres) were identified within two of the soil samples recovered and analysed and fragments of asbestos cement
      sheeting were observed within the body of the landfill waste and on the Site surface.
      The sample of fibrous insulation from 3.6mbgl in BH108 that was sampled separately
      was identified to contain non-asbestos fibres. It is likely that the asbestos containing material present was deposited as part of the landfill operation. It is therefore likely that additional asbestos containing materials could be encountered during the development of the Site. Asbestos containing materials are therefore considered to represent a significant source of contamination with regard to human health’

      With such a body of evidence how can the IW Council condone the use of this contaminated land to locate an asphalt plant to serve their Highways PFI?

  8. I do not believe it

    8.Apr.2013 6:37pm

    ‘WE TOLD YOU SO!’ is the first thing that comes to mind, both to Eurovia and/or the IW Council.

    Well done WRAP and ‘Downwind Resident’ in particular for persevering and battling against the tsunami of IW Council ignorance and Eurovia’s determined deviousness.

    The second thing that comes to mind, as ‘Happy Daze’ says above, is who in the hell in the IW Council is so significantly brain-dead to point Eurovia towards even the possibility of building anything on a site jam-packed with such toxic material? Even this council must have some historical archives which would detail the site’s dumping history.

    Hang on! This is the IW Council with its cabal of elected ‘pughrile’ ruling councillors! So no surprises there then!

    Air pollution is the next item on the agenda.

    I am beginning to understand why Co-op Funeral care have recently opened so many branches on our island – does this firm know something we don’t?

    I think we should be told.

    • Well done JL & WRAP for tenacity but somebody has been pushing this land and pushing it for a reason.

      Found this from earlier this year:

      Well I heard that the island strategy plan, strangely required more industry on the western side of the medina than the eastern side – new Vestas Research Plant, new road and junction at Stag Lane, etc and the proposed asphallt plant also on this western side.
      Which beggars belief when the transport infrastucture and two of the three vehicular ports are on the eastern side – Fishbourne and East Cowes.
      Never mind sending all the wagons thru Newport/Coppins Bridge to leave and enter the island.

      In terms of land ownerships, opportunties and future opportunties it may be worth asking the Planners, Directors and certain key members why this change was promoted and pushed through?

  9. Lady at the back

    8.Apr.2013 8:07pm

    Well done OTW for carrying this important story. I see no mention of this on the CP’s webite today, although they are running a story about three fire engines being called to a bonfire in Shanklin. How can anyone think that this story is not worth running? Isle of Wight radio is carrying details of the report, you would expect the Island’s newspaper to think it had a duty to impart such important information to its readers. Could it be that they are waiting for the “official” line? I have always scorned suggestions that the CP is in the pocket of the council, but this omission seems very suspicious.

  10. downwind resident

    8.Apr.2013 10:41pm

    The more I read of this MB report the less I like it.

    Here we are worrying about asbestos and overlooking all the other toxic wastes lurking in this fetid landfill site which Eurovia’s experts state cause ‘significant contamination’

    I copy one such example of several from the text……

    ‘5.4.5. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
    Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concentrations were recorded in all of the samples above the relevant GACs for several PAHs with the highest concentrations present in the samples from BH2 and BH3. These elevated PAH concentrations are therefore considered to be associated with the TPH impacts and should be considered and assessed as such. Therefore, PAHs are also considered to represent a significant source of contamination with regard to environmental receptors.’

    This further evidence indicates that independent scientific analyses of these data and in all probability more extensive site research is absolutely necessary.

    The IW Council simply cannot sit back and pontificate at long range waiting for a Planning Committee to consider this matter.

    The Head(s)of Planning and Environmental Services need to use their power and authority to reject this landfill site as a location for an asphalt plant.

  11. So, may we now know why Susan Scoccia refused to discuss the matter? I think she owes us all an explanation, especially Cllr Welsford.

  12. DarwinsDisciple

    10.Apr.2013 12:27pm

    As I watch THE application evolve, it certainly is becoming survival of the fittest. How can we get this project to live without the local population getting us first. If we can survive and grow regardless of the soil we sit upon, or the air we infuse, or the vista we create and, the mating calls we engender then, we will have become the last of the dinosaurs, dust free. Vidi Vici VINCI.!

  13. Black Dog

    10.Apr.2013 2:48pm

    If the Boy Blunder had and Electoral Savvy about him he could score very heavily for his own and his party’s prospects by getting planning and environmental services to reject this application NOW.

    One has to wonder why he has not seized this particular gift horse? What lays behind this application and what will the contractors reveal if he does so? Answers in a brown envelope please!

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