A multi-agency response has seen asbestos safely removed from the site of a bonfire at Monrush in Cookstown.
Mid Ulster District Council, together with the PSNI and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), have worked together to ensure that the hazardous material was removed and disposed of correctly by specialist contractors, after local residents had alerted the Council to the issue.
The Council has described the incident as a serious health and safety issue and a spokesperson said:
“This was a reckless and indiscriminate case of illegal dumping which showed absolutely no regard for the safety of local people and is to be condemned.
“The Council will continue to work closely with the local community and its partner agencies to address similar issues which arise in the coming months”.
Superintendent Mike Baird said:
“Following concerns raised by local residents, Police along with Mid Ulster District Council and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency identified a significant amount of asbestos waste that had been dumped near to the bonfire site at Monrush.
“Safety for everyone is paramount. While the physical removal of bonfire material is not a matter for police, we will assist other lead statutory partners if called upon to do so.”
A spokesman for the NIEA said:
“The NIEA contributes to local Council lead interagency approaches to help promote the safe management of traditional bonfires. As part of this approach, we will facilitate the removal of materials such as waste tyres and hazardous substances deposited at bonfire sites. In this instance, and at the request of Mid Ulster Council, the asbestos materials found at the Monrush site have now been safely removed and appropriately disposed of.”
The Council is reminding local communities to ‘celebrate safely’ by following good practice bonfire guidelines, designed to protect people, property and the environment.
The guidelines encourage people to:
- Put safety first: never put lives at risk and always ensure responsible adults are in attendance at bonfires.
- Protect people and property: ensure that bonfires are located away from homes, play areas, fuel tanks and power lines.
- Always consider the environment: harmful toxins can be released when inappropriate materials are burned. Never burn tyres or any other hazardous material on a bonfire.
- Encourage a positive atmosphere: respect all cultures and traditions. Burning inappropriate material also includes other people’s images, flags and election posters.
- Remember the clean up: consider the arrangements for the bonfire clean-up and how any damaged surfaces can be restored.
For more information about bonfire safety, visit www.midulstercouncil.org/celebratesafely.