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Grenfell: 60,000 bags of debris from fire stored under flats close to tower





Danielle Aumord





An estimated 60,000 bags filled with debris from Grenfell Tower, where 72 people died in a fire nearly two years ago, have been stored in garages just over 100 metres from where the fire took place. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) confirmed that the process of removing the 60,000 contaminated bags of debris from the Lancaster West Estate, where they have been stored since the fire, had begun. The work is being carried out by a site team independent of the council. The revelation came at a council meeting of the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee last week, where it was revealed that the bags had been stored in the garages beneath 262 homes at Hurstway Walk – following advice from the coroner for the fatal fire. At the meeting, Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of RBKC, said that he was unaware that the bags had been stored there. Residents at the meeting voiced their concerns at the number of bags that had been stored near the Grenfell site, and claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by the council on the issue. One resident, Melanie Wolfe, told Inside Housing that the council had “batted the matter back and forth to the government” Doug Patterson, who is managing the Grenfell site team, said at the meeting: “We started to move [the bags] after we sought further advice from Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive. He added: “The bags have been double and triple-bagged as a precaution. We’ve been working on this for five months now but it will take six or seven more weeks.” Currently, there are around 500 tonnes of waste that still need to be removed from the site and a spokesperson for the site team said that the bags had been safely stored in a secure area of the site, which was not accessible to the public. Virginia Sang, who lives in Hurstway Walk, said: “Residents should have been informed about this from the beginning, especially on Hurstway as we are living above the contamination. We haven’t even had an ‘official’ letter from the council about this. “We are also concerned about the asbestos in our ceilings in the flats.” The council – who took over the estate management from the tenant management organisation after the fire in 2017 – also confirmed at the meeting that it is planning to remove asbestos present in flats on the estate as a part of a £60m refurbishment programme. The site is due to be transferred to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government but a date has yet to be set. Update: at 10.04am, 29.04.19 This article has been amended. The original article stated that RBKC had begun the process of removing the bags. However, the removal process and site management is being led by an independent team separate from the council.
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