A surge of asbestos fly-tipping incidents across Northumberland is causing environmental and health concerns.
Asbestos needs specialist removal as particular safety rules apply to its transportation and disposal which differ from general waste.
Northumberland County Council reports that in recent months asbestos has been illegally dumped in every corner of the county with the toxic waste appearing in locations from Berwick to Alnwick and Bedlington to Hexham.
In the main, most of the asbestos is the old corrugated sheet type which was widely used across the county in the old colliery row houses and in farms and commercial premises.
As these properties have been modernised, and the asbestos removed, it has fallen into the hands of unscrupulous waste contractors who have been fly-tipping it to save costs.
Cllr Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “Residents and businesses are usually exceptionally careful and are aware of the dangers of asbestos which can cause serious harm to people who are exposed to it.
“We are concerned illegal asbestos collectors are operating in the area and urge residents to report any suspicious behaviour to the council as investigations are under way.
“Fly-tipping on private land remains a significant problem for farmers and landowners who are left frustrated when they, the victims of this crime, are left to clear up dumped waste and pay for its disposal.”
The fly-tipping of asbestos and hazardous waste has becoming increasingly costly for the council to deal with. Over the last nine months it has handled 24 cases - double that of the previous year - which have cost the authority over £10,000.
“We want homeowners to be responsible for their actions and clear of their obligations. If they are carrying out DIY projects and come across hazardous asbestos waste they should ensure that it is taken away by a registered carrier and they get a receipt for it. If not, they run the real risk of being prosecuted if any dumped waste is traced back to them.” added Cllr Swithenbank.
For more information on how to dismantle items correctly, and a list of licensed operators, visit the health and safety executive’s website www.hse.gov.uk or contact Northumberland County Council,
You can report fly-tipping incidents online at www.northumberland.gov.uk