Dear Transport for London,

Please would you provide a list of stations on the London Underground network that contain asbestos.

Do you have an Asbestos register? If so, please would you provide a copy of this/these.

Do any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos? If so, do you have a map showing the location?

Does any underground rolling stock contain asbestos?
If so, please provide a list of which do, and where the Asbestos can be found.

How often do you conduct testing for airborne Asbestos on the Underground? Please would you provide a copy of any such surveys conducted in 2018.

If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under the Section 16 obligations of the Act, as to how I can refine my request.

Yours faithfully,

T Mather

FOI, Transport for London

Dear T Mather

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2882-1819

 

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 27
January 2019.

 

Your request will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the
Freedom of Information Act and TfL’s information access policy. 

 

A response will be sent to you by 22 February 2019.

 

We publish a substantial range of information on our website on subjects
including operational performance, contracts, expenditure, journey data,
governance and our financial performance. This includes data which is
frequently asked for in FOI requests or other public queries. Please check
[1]http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/transpar... to see if this helps you.

 

We will publish anonymised versions of requests and responses on the
[2]www.tfl.gov.uk website. We will not publish your name and we will send
a copy of the response to you before it is published on our website.

 

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please
do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear T Mather

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2882-1819

 

Thank you for your email received by Transport for London (TfL) on 27
January 2019.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) and our information
access policy. I can confirm we hold some of the information you require.
You asked:

 

Please would you provide a list of stations on the London Underground
network that contain asbestos.

 

Do you have an Asbestos register? If so, please would you provide a copy
of this/these.

 

Do any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos? If so, do you have a
map showing the location?

 

Does any underground rolling stock contain asbestos?

If so, please provide a list of which do, and where the Asbestos can be
found.

 

How often do you conduct testing for airborne Asbestos on the Underground?
Please would you provide a copy of any such surveys conducted in 2018.

At London Underground the safety of our customers, our people and
contractors is our number one priority.  We regularly review air quality
across the network and this shows that at its worst the level of dust and
particulate matter in the air is about 1/4 of the maximum safe level set
by the Health and Safety Executive.This is in spite of rising customer
numbers, significant increases in service, like more trains on the
Victoria line and the introduction of Night Tube, and the consequent
increased level of upgrade and maintenance works associated with this
growth.

Details of the location and condition of asbestos is recorded and
maintained on London Underground’s asbestos register which includes its
stations, rolling stock and track/tunnel sections.

We have processes and procedures in place to ensure that the management of
asbestos is carried out in compliance with the Control of Asbestos
Regulations 2012. Some of the main requirements that LU deliver under this
regulation are listed below:  

o Identify the location and condition of hazardous materials
o Maintain an asbestos register with known, presumed or strongly
presumed asbestos
o Assess and manage the risk of exposure
o Prepare, implement, review & monitor the management plan to manage the
risks
o Regularly inspect known instances of asbestos
o Provide information on the location and condition of the material to
anyone who is likely to disturb it
o Carry out management, refurbishment and / or pre-demolition surveys
when required
o Carry out airborne fibre monitoring where necessary
o Maintain records detailing when and where asbestos is removed, treated
and disposed
o Request and retain Waste Consignment Note upon transportation of
Hazardous Materials to Hazardous Waste Landfill site
o Hold relevant Asbestos Management Qualifications

We carry out airborne fibre monitoring for asbestos as reassurance during
work on or near to asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Consequently, we
have a large amount of airborne fibre monitoring data to demonstrate that
suitable and sufficient control measures are in place. Our ongoing
monitoring shows that the levels and content of dust in the underground
sections of London Underground’s infrastructure do not pose a significant
risk to the health of our customers or employees.

 

It is London Underground’s policy to continue to safely manage ACMs
in-situ, through continued management surveys, re-inspections, risk
assessments and pre-work refurbishment & demolition surveys.

 

Asbestos is found throughout the Underground, including public areas.  In
public areas the vast majority of ACMs are contained behind station
finishes and cannot be accessed by the general public.  Where areas of
ACMs interface with the general public they are in a position where they
cause no risk to the general public or staff.  All stations accessed by
the public and staff are re-inspected on an annual basis to ensure that no
adverse damage has been caused to change this status.  If it is assessed
and the status has changed for any reason, then a risk assessment is
undertaken which will result in either encapsulation, encasement, or
removal.

 

We have been monitoring dust levels on the Tube for many years and,
through a wide range of measures, have ensured that particle levels are
well within Health & Safety Executives EH40 guidelines. Further
information can be found on the TfL website
[1]https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publication...

 

To ensure that dust levels remain low and within acceptable levels, London
Underground has a stringent cleaning regime. This is to ensure a more
pleasant environment for customers and staff, and prevent dust from
interfering with the functioning of electrical equipment. As new trains
are commissioned, London Underground requests the installation of
“rheostatic” braking, which reduces the friction action of brakes on
wheels by using the engine power to brake the train, thereby reducing the
amount of dust produced.

 

The main pollutants we measure on the London Underground are respirable
dusts (PM 4.0) and specific metals. The source of these are track, wheel
and brake wear. We do not routinely measure surface pollutants (Nox, Ozone
etc) as these are not generated inside the network.

 

The bulk of monitoring is undertaken in train driver cabins and at
stations. Measurements are generally taken for whole work shifts and are
considered against the Health and Safety Executives EH40 document.

However, given the extent of the information you are looking for, we are
applying Regulation 12(4)(b) to your whole request as we believe that it
is ‘manifestly unreasonable’ because providing some of the information you
have requested would impose unreasonable costs on us and require an
unreasonable diversion of resources. To answer your current request in
full would take an excessive amount of staff time and resources.

Specifically regarding the asbestos register and airborne fibre monitoring
certificates, we have established that the relevant information which we
hold covers a significant period of time and comprises of hundreds of
potentially relevant documents all of which would have to be manually
reviewed.

The use of this exception is subject to a public interest test, which
requires us to consider whether the public interest in applying the
exception outweighs the public interest in disclosure. We recognise that
the release of information would promote accountability and transparency
in public services and also help address your particular concerns about
this issue. However, the time it would take to provide the information you
have requested would divert a disproportionate amount of our resources
from its core functions and on balance we consider that the public
interest currently favours the use of the exception.

If you have a particular location of interest and are able to narrow the
scope of your query with a specific question we may consider your request
in the future.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to
appeal.

Yours sincerely

 

Eva Hextall

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

 

 

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Dear Transport for London,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Transport for London's handling of my FOI request 'Asbestos on the Underground'.

I've reviewed your response which applies regulation 12(4)(b) to my whole request.

According to the ICO:
'This exception can be used:
o when the request is vexatious; or
o when the cost of compliance with the request would be too
great.'

You have in your last correspondence explained that your application of 12(4)(b) was because 'some of the information [I]
have requested would impose unreasonable costs on [tfl] and require an
unreasonable diversion of resources'.

I feel that applying 12(4)(b) to the whole request is not reasonable.

I asked for the following information:

1: A list of stations on the London Underground network that contain asbestos.

2: If you have an Asbestos register.
2.1: If you did have a register, for you to provide a copy of this/these.

3: If any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos.
3.1: If so, for a map showing the location.

4: If any underground rolling stock contained asbestos.
4.1: If so, for a list of which do, and where the Asbestos can be found.

5: How often you conduct testing for airborne Asbestos on the Underground.
5.1: For a copy of any such surveys conducted in 2018.

I should clarify that all of the above referred specifically to London Underground and not other TFL services.

You clarified "specifically regarding the asbestos register and airborne fibre monitoring
certificates, we have established that the relevant information which we
hold covers a significant period of time and comprises of hundreds of
potentially relevant documents all of which would have to be manually
reviewed."

Part 5.1 of my request limits the time period to just 2018, which I hope would reduce the hundreds of documents you would need to review.

Parts 1, 2, 2.1, 3, 3.1, 4 and 4.1 request information relating to the location of Asbestos.

Section 4 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 explains that 'the dutyholder must ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment is carried out as to whether asbestos is or is liable to be present in the premises.'

and that 'the dutyholder must ensure that
(a) account is taken of building plans or other relevant information and of the age of the premises; and
(b) an inspection is made of those parts of the premises which are reasonably accessible.'

Parts 6 and 7 of the section read:
'(6) The dutyholder must ensure that the assessment is reviewed without delay if—

(a)there is reason to suspect that the assessment is no longer valid; or
(b)there has been a significant change in the premises to which the assessment relates.
(7) The dutyholder must ensure that the conclusions of the assessment and every review are recorded.'

Finally, part 9 of section 4 says:
'(9) The measures to be specified in the plan for managing the risk must include adequate measures for—

(a)monitoring the condition of any asbestos or any substance containing or suspected of containing asbestos;
(b)ensuring any asbestos or any such substance is properly maintained or where necessary safely removed; and
(c)ensuring that information about the location and condition of any asbestos or any such substance is—
(i)provided to every person liable to disturb it, and
(ii)made available to the emergency services.'

Based on these requirements, especially Section 4(9)(iii) - I believe that TFL must have an up to date and easily accessible list of the location and condition of asbestos, as TFL will need to provide this information to emergency services.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

T Mather

FOI, Transport for London

Thank you for your request for an internal review which was received on 21 February 2019.

You have stated that you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The review will be conducted by an internal review panel in accordance with TfL’s Internal Review Procedure, which is available via the following URL:

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/internal-revie...

Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 22 March 2019. However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will contact you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Emma Flint
Principal Information Access Advisor
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel

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Dear TFL FOI,

I was expecting a response from you on the 22nd March 2019 in relation to my request for an internal review, however I've not yet received one.

As there has been a delay, please would you provide me with a new estimate on when I can expect a response?

Yours sincerely,

T Mather

FOI, Transport for London

Dear T Mather

Please accept my apologies for the delay in providing a response to your internal review. I am still in the process of reviewing the information held in relation to FOI-2882-1819 as well as liaising with the appropriate individuals with regards to the information held.

I will endeavour to provide an outcome to the review as soon as I possibly can.

Your patience is appreciated.

Yours sincerely
Emma Flint

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Dear Emma,

Thank you for the update, I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Yours sincerely,

T Mather

FOI, Transport for London

Dear T Mather

 

I am contacting you in regards to your request for an internal review
concerning the response provided to FOI-2882-1819. Please accept my
apologies for the delay in responding.

 

In your original request of 27 January 2019 you asked for the following -

 

Please would you provide a list of stations on the London Underground
network that contain asbestos.

 

Do you have an Asbestos register? If so, please would you provide a copy
of this/these.

 

Do any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos? If so, do you have a
map showing the location?

 

Does any underground rolling stock contain asbestos?

If so, please provide a list of which do, and where the Asbestos can be
found.

 

How often do you conduct testing for airborne Asbestos on the Underground?
Please would you provide a copy of any such surveys conducted in 2018.

 

If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the
information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section
12, please provide advice and assistance, under the Section 16 obligations
of the Act, as to how I can refine my request.

 

In our reply of 21 February 2019, it was explained that under regulation
12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) , we are not
obliged to comply with a request if we believe that it is ‘manifestly
unreasonable’ to provide some of the information you have requested as it
would impose unreasonable costs on us and require an unreasonable
diversion of resources. We also advised that to answer your current
request in full would take an excessive amount of staff time and
resources.

 

The EIR allow public authorities to refuse a request for information which
is manifestly unreasonable. The inclusion of the word “manifestly” means
that there must be an obvious or clear quality to the unreasonableness.
The purpose of the applied exception is to protect a public authority from
exposure to a disproportionate burden or an unjustified level of distress,
disruption or irritation, in handling information requests

 

This exception can be used when the request is vexatious or when the cost
of compliance with the request would be too great, and in practice there
is no material difference between a request that is vexatious under
section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and a request that
is manifestly unreasonable on vexatious grounds under the EIR.

 

In assessing whether the cost or burden of dealing with a request is “too
great”, a public authority is required to consider the proportionality of
the burden or costs involved and decide whether they are clearly or
obviously unreasonable.

This means taking into account all the circumstances of the case
including:

- the nature of the request and any wider value in the requested
information being made publicly available;

- the importance of any underlying issue to which the request relates, and
the extent to which responding to the request would illuminate that issue;

- the size of the public authority and the resources available to it,
including the extent to which the public authority would be distracted
from delivering other services; and

- the context in which the request is made, which may include the burden
of responding to other requests on the same subject from the same
requester.

 

In this instance your questions concerning - “Do you have an Asbestos
register? If so, please would you provide a copy of this/these and How
often do you conduct testing for airborne Asbestos on the Underground?
Please would you provide a copy of any such surveys conducted in 2018” are
the areas that impose the most burden to try an provide the information
you seek as the information is not centrally recorded. In reality TfL’s
asbestos register is actually made up of a combination of multiple excel
spreadsheets and asbestos survey reports held across various areas of the
business. Where survey reports form part of the register a lengthy
exercise to extract the relevant parts of the report would need to be
carried out in order to provide information specific to your request. For
Airborne fibre monitoring (AFM), again this information is not held in a
central database that we could easily extract the number of tests
conducted and their subsequent surveys. To collate the figures you seek
would require the manual review 100’s of individual documents to compile
the information for monitoring exercises that have been carried out at
multiple work sites across the network all throughout 2018.

 

When considering whether a request is manifestly unreasonable, even if one
part of the request is deemed to meet the threshold test, a public
authority is entitled to aggregate all parts of the request for the
purposes of regulation 12(4)(b) as it stands to reason that if to answer
just part of the request will impose a significant burden then to answer
the request as a whole will present an even greater significant burden in
staff resource.

 

TfL’s FOI Case Management Team adhere to the Information Commissioners
(ICO) guidance on the application of section 14(1) under the Freedom of
Information Act which, as outlined above, is one of the indicators that
the ICO measures against when considering if a request has an “obvious or
clear quality of unreasonableness” under regulation 12(4)(b). This is
described by the ICO as “The effort required to meet the request will be
so grossly oppressive in terms of the strain on time and resources, that
the authority cannot reasonably be expected to comply, no matter how
legitimate the subject matter or valid the intentions of the requester”.

 

Additionally the ICO’s guidance advises that consideration is given to
whether the request -

 

·         Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a
substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant
details;

·         Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a
considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.

 

In relation to the application of regulation 12(4)(b) to refuse your
original request we consider that all of these elements are met. The above
makes no judgement on the motive of a request but does focus on the burden
created. As advised the information you seek is not centrally held on one
‘register’ or database that can be easily extracted and provided, even
thought as you state you have limited your request to a 12 month period.
Even so, clearly this would be a huge task on what is a limited resource
and would also require input from specialists to identify and consider any
precise concerns that may arise from disclosure which may not be evident
from a layman’s perspective.

 

We do wish to clarify that whilst the review does agree that your request
appropriately engages regulation 12(4)(b), this does not reflect a
conclusion that it has been your intention to deliberately place an undue
burden on our resources.

 

We are fully aware of the importance of accountability and the strong
argument it provides for the release of information that enables the
public to satisfy themselves that we are taking the appropriate steps to
ensure the safety of our network with regards to airborne particles. We
publish information regarding TfL’s Health, safety and environment reports
here -
[1]https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publication....

However, the we maintain that the time it would take to provide the all
the information you have requested would divert a disproportionate amount
of our resources from its core functions and on balance we consider that
the public interest currently favors the use of the exception.

 

The following decision notice issued by the ICO provides an example of a
similar request whereby is was concluded that regulation 12(4)(b) had been
appropriately engaged
[2]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

 

Referring again to your email of 21 February you stated that you did not
believe that the exception warranted being applied to the whole request.
Even though the review has found that the application of regulation
12(4)(b) to the whole request to be correct, it was taken into
consideration whether some of the questions could be answered separate to
the exception that was engaged, namely -

 

Do any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos? If so, do you have a
map showing the location?

Do any London Underground tunnels contain Asbestos? If so, do you have a
map showing the location

Does any underground rolling stock contain asbestos? If so, please provide
a list of which do, and where the Asbestos can be found.

 

However its worth noting that if we were to consider the above 3 questions
on there own merit it is likely that regulation 12(5)(a) would be engaged.
The application of regulation 12(5)(a) relates to the adverse effect that
disclosure would have on international relations, defence, national
security or public safety.

 

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) give rights of public
access to information held by public authorities. There can be a
significant overlap between the four interests protected by regulation
12(5)(a) and how disclosure would adversely effect international
relations, defence, national security or public safety. However for the
purpose of your request we feel that the adverse effect that disclosure
would have would be primarily concerning public safety.

 

The term ‘public safety’ is not defined in the EIR. But in broad terms
this limb of the exception will allow a public authority to withhold
information when disclosure would result in hurt or injury to a member of
the public. It can be used to protect the public as a whole, a specific
group, or one individual who would be exposed to some danger as a result
of the disclosure.

 

The information that you requested are specific details concerning where
asbestos could potentially be located which is information created only
for specific internal individuals in regards to maintaining the safety and
security of the travelling network. The safety of the travelling public
is, and always will be, our upmost priority and if we were to disclose
detailed information to the ‘public at large’ which would potentially
highlight areas that could be used to cause disruption to the network
would allow, in effect, an individual or individuals with a malicious
intent to cause harm or disruption for their own gain, putting the safety
of members of the public and staff at serious risk.

 

Similar examples of requests for information that have been withheld under
regulation 12(5)(a) have been considered and upheld by the Information
Commissioner due to the fact that disclosure into the wider public domain
could, on the balance of probabilities, assist those wishing to seek
damage and cause harm. For more information please see

 

[3]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
and

 

[4]https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...

 

Another similar example of this is outlined in the Information Tribunal
case of The office of Communications v ICO and T Mobile (UK) Ltd
(EA/2006/0078). The Information Tribunal considered a request for
information revealing the exact locations of base stations. The Tribunal
found that public safety would be adversely affected because disclosure
would encourage the theft of cable from those base stations rendering them
dangerous as well as assist terrorists wishing to cause harm and disrupt
to emergency service communications.

 

Given all of the above and the fact that the current UK threat level set
by MI5 remains at severe, with regards to the public interest we have to
consider the wider pubic interest and to an extent the national public
interest, in continuing our ability to keep our transport network as safe
and secure as we possibly can, weighed against the personal interest of
smaller group of individuals. Whilst we fully appreciate that the EIR has
an inherent presumption in favour of disclosure, TfL’s underground travel
network is used by hundreds of thousands of individuals on any given day
and due to the danger that disclosure of this information would pose this
review has found, that if considered, the public interest in maintaining
the application of regulation 12(5)(a) would outweigh the interest in
disclosure.

 

I appreciate that the above explanation will mostly like come as a
disappointment to you but I hope that it provided a more satisfactory
understanding regarding the information that you seek and the
considerations we have made concerning disclosure. However if you are
dissatisfied with the internal review actions to date you can refer the
matter to the independent authority responsible for enforcing the Freedom
of Information Act, at the following address:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

A complaint form is also available on the ICO’s website
([5]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Emma Flint

Principal Information Access Adviser

FOI Case Management Team

Transport for London

[6][TfL request email]

 

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publication...
2. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
3. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
4. https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...
5. http://www.ico.org.uk/
6. mailto:[TfL request email]
7. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/