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Asbestos found in site earmarked for new Tesco, Glengall Road, Edgware
Asbestos has been found in a building being cleared to make way for a new Tesco supermarket – just yards from a primary school playground.
Demolition of the Sparrows Pub, in Glengall Road, Edgware, has been delayed after the potentially toxic material was found in the ceiling two weeks ago.
But although the site backs directly onto the playground of Rosh Pinah Primary School, Tesco has assured the Times Series it poses no risk to the children.
Contractors removed traces of asbestos from the building before the site opened in March - but the supermarket revealed more was discovered at the end of September - seven months after builders began work.
Although Tesco says the site is safe, a source told the Times Series it is still dangerous.
He said: “In the last two weeks, workers came across huge amounts of asbestos which had already begun to separate - meaning it is dangerous.
“It was all sealed off on Tuesday to prevent the fibres from escaping. As the playground backs directly onto it, there’s a possibility children could have been exposed to this as well.
“The whole ground floor is a contaminated zone and around 30 to 40 men who were doing the demolition of these walls have also been exposed to it.”
Tesco has informed the Health and Safety Executive and has now employed licensed contractors to seal and remove the asbestos from the building.
In a statement from Tesco, a spokesman said: “Asbestos containing materials were removed from the site in March 2013.
“But in late September, further materials were discovered within the fabric of the building. The site was immediately made safe and a HSE licensed contractor is undertaking the removal work.
“The site does not pose risk to the public.
“Air testing, by two separate asbestos specialist consultants, has indicated that there are no elevated airborne asbestos fibre levels present within the building.”
The asbestos was found in ceiling and wall tiles that were put in to make a firebreak between the ground floor and the upstairs residential quarters of the former pub.
Asbestos is widely used as insulation but is illegal in many parts of the world as if the fibres are inhaled they can cause deadly lung diseases.
A statement from Barnet Council said: “The whole site is enclosed with an 8ft hoarding so residents cannot access it.
“You therefore cannot see the ground floor area but doors, windows and bricks are now adequately sealed so the asbestos cannot escape.
“There will be extensive and methodical works to remove asbestos from the site in the next four to five weeks and any major work occurs.
“We will be monitoring the site closely to ensure there is no risk of exposure.”
A spokesman for HSE said: "The Health and Safety Executive has been made aware of concerns relating to asbestos on this site and is making initial enquiries."
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