Around 60,000 bags of contaminated waste resulting from the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, currently stored in garages beneath nearby homes, is to be cleared following concerns from residents that they could pose a health risk.
Contractor Wates Living Space has started to clear the debris, estimated to weigh around 500 tonnes, on behalf of the the independent Grenfell site management team.
Inside Housing reported concerns from residents at a meeting of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee that the debris could be hazardous.
It was also reported that council deputy leader Kim Taylor-Smith had been unaware the bags were being stored in the garages.
A spokesperson for the Grenfell site management team told MRW: “Since the fire, the bags of debris have been safely stored in a secure area of the Grenfell Tower site, which is not accessible to the public.
“It has been in response to community concerns that the careful process of removing the bags has begun and is due to be completed next month.
“It is being moved to a secure storage location off-site. Throughout this process, the debris is being handled safely and carefully monitored. All monitoring to date has not shown any cause for concern.
“A high level of precaution has been used from the outset. The bags have not been tested because the material was a mixture of different types and therefore any sample taken would not have been representative.
“We have developed and agreed this approach with Public Health England (PHE) and Health and Safety Executive.”
Meanwhile, Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh said there was a “lack of urgent action” about a possible health threat from toxic chemicals resulting from the Grenfell fire.
The committee heard from Anna Stec, a professor in fire chemistry and toxicity at the University of Central Lancashire, who has identified health threats to survivors, firefighters and residents from the chemical contamination in soil around Grenfell.
Creagh said: “She has repeated her call for blood and saliva testing to be carried out as a matter of urgency by PHE to detect the levels of those contaminants in people.
“We were astonished to hear that, to her knowledge, testing is not taking place.”
Stec has called for Kensington and Chelsea Council to carry out a deep clean of all flats in the Grenfell area, including ventilation systems.
Creagh added: “People living around Grenfell have the right to expect that all necessary steps will be taken to protect their health after the tragedy. I will be raising these issues with ministers as a matter of urgency.”