Caerphilly Council asked to consider demolishing Cwmcarn High School over asbestos find
Caerphilly County Borough Council has been asked to consider demolishing Cwmcarn High School in the wake of airborne asbestos being found there.
The school was suddenly closed last Friday afternoon after a contractor discovered the material. Some pupils have been allowed to go back today and more are to follow Monday with the school fully re-opening after half-term on Monday November 5.
The report by contractors recommended closing access to the school immediately, although the risk to students and staff from fibres of damaged asbestos was said to be low.
The council has also said the contractors, in their report, told the authority to “look at the abatement/demolition of Cwmcarn High School, due to the implicated costs of continuing to operate without further risk of exposure.”
The council estimates it would cost millions to remove the asbestos, but says it is considering all options.
A council spokesman said: “Caerphilly County Borough Council has announced that all pupils from Cwmcarn High School will be able to resume their studies on Monday November 5 following the half term break.
“Details are currently being considered by the Governing Body and council and further information will follow in due course.
“Years 12 and 13 will return to the new block on the Cwmcarn site on Friday October 19, with Year 11 following on Monday October 22.
“We intend to organise a series of meetings with parents next week to provide further update on the situation, including arrangements for pupils on Monday November 5.”
The school was closed on Friday October 12 after contractors discovered asbestos levels measured within the school were in the range of 0.003 to 0.008 fibres/ml.
While the council said the potential health risk to pupils and staff was low, it defended its actions to close the school to “assess and reduce any potential future exposure to asbestos, thereby protecting the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff at the school.”
There is asbestos throughout the original school buildings apart from its music and drama block and languages wing. The council has said the majority of the substance is undisturbed and sealed and poses no safety issue. However, it has admitted that some debris was discovered and that some had been disturbed.
Education Minister Leighton Andrews announced on Tuesday that all councils in Wales had to deliver reports on asbestos levels in schools by next week.
The NASUWT teaching union has warned of “massive issues” around funding the removal of asbestos from schools especially at a time of cuts. It has also asked the Health and Safety Executive to look at the situation in Cwmcarn and has called for all schools to be tested for asbestos consistently.