Ireland has spent nearly €160 million ($235 million USD) on asbestos removal and management over the last nine years including a record 42.5 million ($62.6 million USD) spent in 2007.
The project was created to remove asbestos from public facilities and has removed or encapsulated asbestos at thousands of sites throughout the country including 4,000 schools (a rate of nearly 450 per year) and Leinster House.
The Office of Public Works reported that the majority of costs went towards encapsulation and management of the asbestos rather than removal and disposal. The agency said the major criterion for removal was the likelihood the material would be disturbed in the future.
During the last nine years the state has paid compensation of only €217,000 for two claims involving asbestos exposure to members of the public.
The state is also seeking to recover legal fees owed from a failed class action lawsuit by workers who wanted compensation for “psychological stress” about possible injuries from asbestos exposure though none could produce evidence of any lung problems. The original decision sided with the workers but it was challenged and overturned in a higher court.