asbestos survey

Controversial: “Painstaking” asbestos survey conducted by phone

In another bizarre twist in the ongoing asbestos controversy, it now appears that the government is compiling the survey it said was “so delicate and time-consuming” … over the telephone.
School directors are even being called and asked to go onto school roofs to confirm whether surfaces seen via Google maps are indeed asbestos, or not.
This unorthodox state of affairs – particularly when the government has been playing for time over the asbestos list demanded by teachers’ union Fenprof last month – has led to a new exposé in Correio da Manhã newspaper.
“The way the Ministry of Education is doing this study into school buildings with asbestos is generating some doubts,” it writes.
A Lisbon school director told the paper he had had to climb up to the roof of his school building and report back to a “painstaking” government inspector who not once set so much as a foot on the school premises.
“I am not an expert,” the head teacher told CM: “But what I saw did not appear to be asbestos, so that is what I said down the telephone.”
The teacher said that was the last he heard on the subject from the education authorities.
The story follows allegations by Quercus that the government survey is being conducted by “complete amateurs”.
“There is a total lack of understanding of what asbestos is, and the work of identification – which cannot be termed a survey of buildings – is being done by workers who have no training in this area,” Carmen Lima told Público newspaper.
Fenprof’s Mário Nogueira agrees, telling the paper that a number of schools had been contacted by telephone to be told that they were priorities for the removal of asbestos roofing, but that “no one had ever appeared”.
“This whole process has been conducted with a lack of responsibility,” Nogueira told CM, stressing that the education ministry has even failed to provide details on the schools where asbestos roofing and panels have been removed.
Seven years ago – that is two years after the use of asbestos was banned throughout Europe – education chiefs revealed they had a list of 739 schools with asbestos panels in their makeup.
Asbestos fever began cutting a swathe through Portugal this year after government workers complained of the high number of cases of employees suffering from respiratory problems and cancers in state-run buildings where asbestos is present.
Caption: School directors are reportedly being asked to climb up to the roof of school buildings to check if asbestos has been used … and then report back to a government inspector over the phone