It was reported in the local press a few weeks ago that a pile of refuse, which contained asbestos sheets was recently dumped by the roadside in Burtonwood, Nr Warrington, Cheshire.

Apart from the issue of illegal flytipping, it has to be of some serious concern that either ignorance of the actual waste contents or lack of asbestos awareness itself, led to this deadly hazard occurring. It would be assumed by now that most people would know that when asbestos material has been discovered, it must be carefully disposed of by the approved and authorised asbestos removal contractors.

The likelihood is of course, that the culprits did recognise the potentially lethal substance and just decided to continue illegally dumping the waste as they would do normally.

All building industry companies and waste disposal firms are subject to strict Health & Safety legislation and training, especially with regards the procedures when encountering and handling asbestos materials.

The duty to manage asbestos is contained in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, which advises to “ take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos in non-domestic premises, and if so, its amount, where it is and what condition it is in” and “ presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not”.

The Regulations also stipulate that “ the removal of asbestos, or working in an area of asbestos … must only be carried out by specialist contractors”.

It is fairly common knowledge that asbestos exposure can lead to a number of deadly related diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. According to The World Health Organisation, an estimated 90,000 people die each year around the world from asbestos-related disease.

This particular instance of illegal fly tipping carried more than just asbestos danger, since unusually, it had been dumped alongside the public highway, representing a fatal collision risk to unsuspecting motorists, especially at night.