Plymouth Factory Fire Reveals Asbestos Materials

According to a BBC News report, a factory fire in Plymouth, England caused asbestos materials to be potentially dispersed throughout a residential neighborhood last week. The residents in the St. Budeaux area of Plymouth were awoken early on the morning of October 15 as a local factory burst up in flames and was said to be “emitting dangerous materials,” the Plymouth Herald reports. The news source explains that fireman and police officials notified all of the local residents to keep their windows and doors closed once the risk of asbestos was realized. The factory was formerly a plant which produced ice cream and has continually been a target for arson over the past few years. Even though the fire was said to be rather small, the Plymouth news source explain it still caused significant damage. Once fire crews were present on the scene, some of them were required to wear extra protective gear to prevent asbestos exposure. Also, a local specialist in the field of hazardous materials was sent to the scene to take tests and survey the area for possible risks, the article explains. The fear of asbestos materials spreading has become a major issue in cases such as this, as the risks of this material have become increasingly apparent. Because this building is so old, asbestos materials were likely present throughout. Following a fire, asbestos is in its most dangerous form, as it can easily become friable and airborne, making human exposure a strong possibility. Asbestos exposure is most greatly feared due to its link to the deadly cancer known as mesothelioma. Once the fire was put out, crews were forced “to go through a decontamination process to reduce the risk of harm from asbestos,” the Plymouth Herald reports. The news source goes on to explain that this building has been the subject of arson attacks dating back to 2008, when flames burned through nearly half of the factory. Another fire in September of that year was said to have damaged nearly 80 percent of the factory’s contents. A third attack took place on the premises in 2009, when two disused automobiles were set ablaze in the factory’s parking lot. Local officials are hoping that the life of this factory may soon come to an end, the article explains. The Plymouth Herald report explains that such recent events have put tremendous strain on local residents, as they have had watch a building so close to their homes continually being vandalized, putting their health at risk. However, this is just one asbestos-laden building likely sitting empty and vulnerable to such attacks in England. As long as such abandoned facilities exist, the risk of asbestos exposure brought on by criminal mischief will remain as well, putting local residents in jeopardy.
  • BBC News Wire. (October 14, 2011) “Asbestos found at disused factory fire in Plymouth.” Retrieved on October 19, 2011 from BBC News.
  • Plymouth Herald Wire. (October 14, 2011) “Residents woken by the police after derelict factory catches fire.” Retrieved on October 19, 2011 from The Plymouth Herald.
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