Asbestos dumped in Somerset lane next to ‘no fly-tipping’ sign

A quantity of asbestos has been dumped in a Somerset country lane – right next to a sign ordering people not to fly-tip.

Somerton resident and former town councillor Clive Wilson came across the fly-tipping on Sunday while out for a walk.

He reported the incident to South Somerset District Council’s Street Scene team, and a specialist contractor was dispatched to remove the dangerous material.

In light of the incident, the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has issued guidance for the public about reporting fly-tipping, while urging them not to approach such hazardous materials.

A spokesman said:

“If you see fly-tipping, take no risks: you should not touch anything fly-tipped as it may contain sharp or hazardous materials.

Nor do we recommend you approach or challenge fly-tippers. Instead, when it is safe, contact the district council with any details.

This can include: the amount fly-tipped, possible contents from a visual check only, the location, time and date, whether it is in or near water, and information about those who may be responsible, such as vehicle type, colour and registration number.”

Asbestos was widely used as a building material until the second half of the 20th century, as growing medical evidence demonstrated that exposure could cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer.

The UK banned the import and use of blue and brown asbestos in 1985, before curtailing the use of white asbestos in 1992 and finally banning the use of all forms in 1999.

Companies around the UK are regularly called in to eliminate asbestos from existing homes or workplaces, and there are strict rules about the material can be disposed of once it has been safely removed.

A spokesperson for the SWP said:

“Everyone has a duty of care to ensure their waste is properly handled by licensed traders and sent to a place that can legally take the materials. Failure to do this can lead to prosecution and fines.

Ask any trader taking waste – from builders to man-with-van operators – for their waste carrier licence and where the refuse will go.

Never pay by cash; get a receipt with full contact details, and note the registration number and description of vehicles and people taking away your waste.

Take particular care in using social media to get waste removed. If you know about those who fly-tip, inform your district council immediately.”