Workers in protective suits and breathing equipment arrived on a Buxton building site last week to the concern of residents, but project bosses say it is no cause for alarm.
Network Rail wrote to residents near the Buxton sidings site on Friday, July 13, notifying them of a new phase of land remediation to be carried out in full safety gear, offering only an unmanned phone number offered for queries.
The site is known to be a former dump for disused asbestos, prompting understandable caution — but residents feel they have not been afforded equal protection.
Ros Beesley, who lives on Brown Edge Road, said: “If there is asbestos in the ground, it becomes lethal when disturbed, although the cancer caused doesn’t manifest itself for 15 - 20 years.
“There are two JCBs digging up the site, hosing it down with one jetwash, and this is happening 50-100 yards away from families with children and three schools.”
The Network Rail letter said an exclusion zone would be set up and excavated materials will be recovered in the landscaping face, but Ros and her neighbours have doubts over how effective that may be.
She said: “The wind is pushing the uncovered particles into the air, and they rise up the valley and settle.”
Deborah Martin added: “The men in body suits were spraying over every single inch of material as it was being dug out, and what ever was being sprayed was being blown towards Brookland Road.
“The blatant disregard of residents wellbeing and health and safety doesn’t bode well for future use of the line.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “The Health and Safety Executive and High Peak Borough Council’s environmental health officers are in full agreement with the control measures adopted.
“The site is monitored for dust and air quality around the boundary with no unsatisfactory results to date.”
A council spokesman confirmed that account and said: “The Health and Safety Executive is the regulatory body for this type of work, but council officers will be visiting the site to speak to Network Rail.”
MP Ruth George has also taken up the residents’ concerns, and said: “I’m pleased Network Rail have now detailed the precautions on site and that work is being done with the safety of both workers and residents in mind.
“Residents don’t need to stay indoors or keep windows shut and I hope they have the reassurance needed to enjoy the return of the hot weather during the summer holidays.”
She added: “I have asked residents to let me know of any other safety concerns.”