The figures released Monday show removing asbestos from ducts under the floor in the south wing has cost 1 million pounds ($1.55 million) so far, The Independent reported. Ridding the entire palace of asbestos is expected to be a 20-year-project and to cost many times that.
The oldest part of the palace dates back to 1705, when it was the townhouse of the Duke of Buckingham. It was enlarged in the early 19th century and has additions from the 20th century, including the Queen's Gallery, which replaced a section destroyed by a World War II bomb.
The asbestos dates to the 1940s when it was commonly used for sheathing and insulation and had not yet been identified as a deadly carcinogen.
"The mechanical and electrical services at Buckingham Palace were largely installed in 1949 and are in need of replacement," the account reported. "The mains are distributed around the palace from central plant rooms in ducts that run under the basement floor of three of the four wings. This ... comprises the removal of the cover of each duct, clearance of asbestos contamination … ."