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Posted: Wednesday 25 April, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Officials dispel rumours of asbestos threat at government institutions

National ITC Centre
By: Jenise Ferlance,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - LAST Friday (Apr. 20) rumours surfaced about an asbestos leak at the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centre and executives of that institution were currently seeking a temporary location while the problem is being resolved.


    This publication also received word that there were a number of employees who fell ill as a result of this exposure.


    SKNVibes contacted Head of the Department of Technology Christopher Herbert, who said that he has no knowledge of any asbestos leak but the executives were indeed looking into relocating temporarily.


    "I have no knowledge of an asbestos leak...but there are some concerns with the present condition of the building and we are at the moment seeking a temporary relocation."


    This media house also spoke to Kurt Lewis, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports, Information Technology, Telecommunications and Post, who also countered the asbestos leak rumour but was not forthcoming with further information.


    "I am not aware of an asbestos leak. I have no knowledge of that but a press release would be issued shortly that would answer all questions that anyone might have…hopefully by tomorrow."


    When pressed about employees falling ill, Lewis confirmed that a number of them were indeed ill but was he was unaware of the reason.


    "There were one or two employees who were not feeling well but I cannot state the reason behind their illness. Only their doctors can."


    Meanwhile, it was also rumoured this morning (Apr. 25) that another government institution, the Irish Town Primary School, had an asbestos leak.


    SKNVibes contacted the principal of that institution, Mrs. Jean Boddie, who refuted the rumour, stating that she had no knowledge of an asbestos leak.


    This media house also spoke to Minister with responsibilities for Education and Information, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty who explained that there was some work being done at the school and one of the workers looked at some of the material and thought that they might have contained asbestos.


    He continued: "The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health worked together to bring in the public health officials who went to the school and took a sample of the material and promised to test it to allay the fears and to address the concerns.


    "The Ministry is not aware of any asbestos down there [at the school] or any asbestos leak of any kind. It was just a concern that was raised by a member of the community who was assisting the school who thought that there might have been some risk of asbestos in the material."


    Minister Carty further explained that material is currently being worked on and that a report would be compiled and made available upon completion of the tests.
    He however noted that classes are ongoing as there is no indication of any threat to the students.


    Asbestos is a set of six naturally-occurring silicate minerals used commercially for its desirable physical properties. It is strong enough to resist high temperatures, chemical attack and wear. A poor conductor, it protects well against heat and electricity.


    The prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.


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