Construction union Ucatt condemned today "misleading" safety advice given out by a Welsh council after the discovery of asbestos in a local high school.
Following the closure of Cwmcarn High School due to the discovery of high levels of brown asbestos, the union accused Caerphilly Council of issuing highly misleading information claiming that short-term exposure to the lethal substance was not harmful.
The school was shut last Friday after workmen found the hazardous material while carrying out repairs. A structural report received by the authority confirmed the presence of asbestos and recommended it "look at the abatement/demolition" of the school due to the costs of "continuing to operate without further risk of exposure."
In a statement on the council's website, now removed, it said: "Short-term exposure to asbestos is not considered to be harmful, but there may be harmful effects of very long-term exposure."
Ucatt general secretary Steve Murphy said: "This is the most outrageous thing I have seen regarding asbestos safety.
"There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Breathing in a single fibre of asbestos could lead to the fatal and incurable cancer mesothelioma.
"Caerphilly Council must withdraw this information immediately and apologise. Not only is it endangering everyone attending the school but anyone else reading the advice would be given the totally wrong information about the safety of asbestos."
A council spokesman said: "A list of useful questions and answers about the situation at Cwmcarn High School was prepared by Caerphilly County Borough Council and Public Health Wales.
"In light of concerns raised about one section of advice, the council has now received clarification from public health and the information has been revised accordingly."