The training facility being constructed for the 2012 basketball Olympics is being built on top of an asbestos-filled parkland, causing environmental campaigners to protest, news sources reported.
London, the host-city of the Olympic games and the location of the basketball training site, is where concerns are brewing about the health threats associated with asbestos exposure.
This practice facility will host basketball stars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in addition to countless more from multiple countries as each team competes for the sports highest world accolades.
Despite the high profile names expected to arrive at the facility during the Olympic, local protesters are more concerned about the environmental and health implications of such construction.
Exposure to asbestos is known to cause respiratory diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma, but can often take up to 50 years to manifest and become evident. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 Americans die each year from mesothelioma.
Asbestos is Core Issue of Protest
Asbestos has multiple industrial uses and is often found in construction materials. As a result, it is commonly present in landfills as well as construction sites, especially those of prior decades.
Armed with this information, protesters aimed to halt the construction by informing Mr Justice Arnold, a High Court judge, of their concerns of the hazard. Their progress was limited by legal actions by one of the Olympics’ organizations.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), the public body that manages the construction of game venues for the Olympics, argued to the judge that the protesters were stopping construction workers from getting to the site.
On April 14, six protesters were arrested for inhibiting construction workers‘ ability to enter the work site.
The judge then issued an injunction on April 4th that would help keep protesters away from the site entrances and from disrupting construction progress.
“The injunction doesn’t prevent lawful or peaceful protest,” said Mr Justice Arnold.
“The court’s function is to uphold the law.”
According to a protester, the building site was previously a landfill after World War II. During the early to mid-1900s, asbestos use was extremely common because the health hazards were not well understood by the scientific community.
On Wednesday, the protesters renewed their concerns by speaking with the judge again by way of a two-hour hearing.
Some critics of the judge have stated that he has a conflict of interest in issuing the injunction because of his intention to attend some of the basketball games.
“As it happens I do have tickets for one of the basketball matches,” the judge said.