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

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) said in reply to questions by Times of Malta that the Marsaxlokk council is responsible for the removal of the pipes, adding its remit is limited solely to issuing the relative permits for them to be safely discarded.

“ERA has been in contact with the Department of Local Government, offering its assistance with any environmental permits that may be required to handle this waste,” an ERA spokesperson said.

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

We’re exposed to the danger as are the thousands who have walked past them in the past two months.- Resident

A company that specialises in the removal of asbestos waste, PT Matic, a subsidiary of Alberta Group, told Times of Malta when contacted that it would cost around €9,500, excluding VAT, to collect and dispose of the hazardous waste safely.

Marsaxlokk mayor Steven Grech said the council did not have the funds to remove the waste, adding that incurring such a cost would mean the money would have to be used instead of other planned projects and maintenance works.

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

According to last year’s audited accounts, the council spent almost €230,000 on maintenance, including refuse and bulky refuse collection, street cleaning and general repair work.

It also spent €114,000 on salaries and €62,000 on administration expenses. 

Authorities fail to take responsibility

Times of Malta reported this week that asbestos pipes dumped in Marsaxlokk at the beginning of June remain there, with none of the authorities assuming responsibility for their removal.

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

“We’ve been chasing the local council for a number of weeks but the health hazard remains there on the roadside,” one angry resident told Times of Malta.

“We’re exposed to the danger as are the thousands who have walked past them in the past two months. Something’s got to be done and quickly.”

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate once regarded as a miracle fibre and used in a wide range of materials installed in homes and offices.

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

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