Local council says it does not have the money to remove roadside asbestos pipes

Dangerous asbestos pipes dumped illegally by the roadside in Marsaxlokk over two months ago are unlikely to be removed any time soon as the council says it lacks the funds to do so.

Responding to questions from the Times of Malta, the Environment and Resources Agency (ERA) said Marsaxlokk Council was responsible for removing the pipes, adding that its competence was limited solely to issuing the appropriate permits for their safe disposal.

“ERA has been in contact with the Department for Local Government and has offered its assistance with environmental permits that may be required to handle this waste,” said an ERA spokesman.

He said the ERA was investigating the dumping and urged anyone with information to contact the agency on 2292 3500.

We are at risk, as are the thousands who have walked past them over the past two months.– residents

A company specializing in the removal of asbestos waste, PT Matic, a subsidiary of Alberta Group, told the Times of Malta that the safe collection and disposal of the hazardous waste would cost around €9,500 excluding VAT.

Marsaxlokk Mayor Steven Grech said the city council did not have the funds to clean up the waste, adding such costs would mean the money would have to be used in lieu of other planned projects and maintenance.

The council’s total budget for the year, including salaries, was around 400,000 euros.

According to the audited annual accounts, the municipality spent almost 230,000 euros on maintenance, including refuse and bulky waste collection, street cleaning and general repair work.

It also spent €114,000 on salaries and €62,000 on administrative costs.

The authorities take no responsibility

The Times of Malta reported this week that asbestos pipes dumped in Marsaxlokk in early June remain there with no authorities taking responsibility for their removal.

Several pedestrians walk past the pipes daily on the main street leading to the widely popular St. Peter’s Pool.

“We have been chasing the local council for a number of weeks but the health risk remains at the side of the road,” an angry local resident told the Times of Malta.

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“We are at risk, as are thousands who have walked past them over the past two months. Something has to be done, and fast.”

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate that was once considered a miracle fiber and is used in a variety of materials installed in homes and offices.

Breathing in asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, a long-term inflammation and scarring of the lungs that can also lead to cancer.

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