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Cyprus Health

Berengaria asbestos to be removed by 2019

Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades inspects the Berengaria site with asbestos rooftops

THE toxic asbestos from the rooftops of the now abandoned former British military estate of Berengaria in Kato Polemidia is going to start this year and will take three years to complete, Communications and Works Minister Marios Demetriades said on Friday.

The government’s plans to proceed with the removal of the hazardous material from which the roofs of the settlement’s houses are made, were announced after the area was recently cleaned from wild vegetation which posed a danger for rodents and reptiles and was also a fire hazard.

Speaking on the site that lies within the western suburbs of Limassol, Demetriades said the government will proceed to tender the project under a three-year plan so that in 2019 the asbestos which the British government agreed to transfer abroad for landfilling will be fully removed.

“The cost to clean the asbestos could exceed €9n and this is quite a big amount, but I think it is something that must and should be done,” Demetriades said, adding that it is surprising that such a large area near the town has remained untapped for so many years.

The minister went on to express his confidence that something very beautiful will come out of this effort.

On his part, the Mayor of Kato Polemidia, Nicos Anastasiou, said that “the residents see with satisfaction that finally works are being done and they have waited so many years, they will wait another three years.”

“Our concern is to see with the interior ministry how we will develop the site; it is 260 donums of land, we have to look seriously into the issue of a proper design and use,” the mayor said, adding that a local draft proposes the construction of a university campus and a large national park which should constitute 20 per cent of the area.

Residents of the area have long complained about the asbestos at Berengaria and its potential threat to their health.

Breathing in airborne asbestos fibres has been linked to several medical conditions, such as asbestosis (thickening and scarring of lung tissue) and mesothelioma (a highly lethal tumour of the pleura, the membranous lining of the upper body cavity and lung covering), as well as lung, intestine and liver cancers.

Bought by the British ministry of defence in the 1950s, the Berengaria estate was kept for military use as a retained site under the Treaty of Establishment when the Republic was formed in 1960.

It included 200 houses, a school, a community centre, a medical centre, a YMCA, library, messes, shops and three churches, built between April 1955 and September 1957.

Military personnel and their families moved from Berengaria in 2000 to a new housing estate further west within the larger Episkopi Sovereign Base Area.

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