Minister calls for stronger checks on asbestos removal

Minister calls for stronger checks on asbestos removal

Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir announced on Monday that she wants the federal government to strengthen checks on asbestos removal sites.

She made a request to this effect in letter to the Federal Minister of Labour, Pierre-Yves Dermagne (PS).

Competences in asbestos removal fall under both the Flemish and the federal governments. Demolition and collection of asbestos on sites installed in Flanders is a regional competence. Monitoring working conditions during waste disposal is a federal responsibility, as is monitoring laboratories that test for asbestos.

It precisely the latter that is at issue, Ms. Demir (N-VA) stressed in a press release.

According to the Environment Minister, figures provided by the Flemish Public Waste Agency, OVAM, show that there are insufficient checks on many asbestos removal sites. The recognised laboratories responsible for analysing asbestos are also not checked enough, the minister says.

She has therefore sent a letter to Mr. Dermagne (PS) requesting a meeting with the competent regional and federal services to consider strengthening controls on asbestos removal.

All professional sites concerned with asbestos must be registered with the federal government, but in actual practice, this is hardly checked, if at all, Demir pointed out.

She cites as an example an exceptional action recently carried out jointly by the city of Aalst and the Department of Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue, in collaboration with the OVAM, during which 48 of the 51 construction sites checked were found to be non-compliant.

For years now, the government has had a plan for the elimination of asbestos in construction that should make Flanders an asbestos-free region by 2040.

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