Blog Archives

Asbestos Exposure at Gateway Arch Closes Museum

By Beth Swantek, http://www.asbestos.com

An asbestos exposure mishap at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis not only delayed a renovation project at an estimated cost of $350,000, but it also exposed park service employees and others to the cancer-causing mineral.

 

Last November, workers with contractor McCarthy Building Companies cut into asbestos insulation around an old steam pipe at the museum. Park officials responded by evacuating the area and halting renovations.

According to Kathy Schneider, project manager for the National Parks Service, the delay would normally last only a few days while the area was sealed and the pipe removed.

In this case, McCarthy workers determined they severed the same pipe a month earlier, not realizing deadly asbestos had contaminated the area. Read more

Asbestos Found In Harvard Building Materials

By JALIN P. CUNNINGHAM, Harvard Crimson

Asbestos found in Harvard building materials recently forced at least one undergraduate to temporarily relocate out of his room in Winthrop House, although administrators say current levels of the fibrous material pose no health problems to students.

Last semester, after arriving back to his dorm, Winthrop resident Matthew W.G. Walker ’16 said he noticed a chunk of plaster had fallen from the ceiling into his closet, scattering dust over his clothes. The next day, Winthrop House staff and facility workers tested the plaster and found levels of asbestos in the material, according to Walker.

Winthrop House Masters Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. wrote in a statement that standards of construction for older buildings are to blame for the presence of asbestos, which was frequently used for fireproofing and insulation throughout the twentieth century.

“Asbestos has been found in rooms at Winthrop House, either during repair work or during episodes where something breaks and materials behind the wall are exposed,” they wrote, adding that no students or staff members in the House are exposed to asbestos in ways that would break building codes. Read more

 

Federal Asbestos Regulations Failed To Be Met At An Iowa High School

By Jillian Duff, http://www.mesothelioma.com/

georgewashschoolConstruction workers at George Washington Senior High School in Cedar Rapids failed to meet asbestos removal regulations. As a result, fibers from the hazardous material became airborne and now the school is closed for further abatement and testing.

According to the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s Manger of Buildings and Grounds Rob Kleinsmith, construction was occurring to finish the third and final year of replacing the school’s heating and ventilation system when the asbestos was discovered.

Environmental Program Supervisor in the Department of Natural Resources’ Air Quality Bureau Brian Hutchins, said, “The material isn’t a health risk as long as it’s properly contained.”

Currently, laws do not exist to mandate removal of all asbestos from schools, but each school should have a management plan in case the toxic mineral becomes damaged and no longer contained. By law, parents can review the management plan in place and if no action is taken to correct the situation soon, the local U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be notified immediately. Read more

Kittens rescued from asbestos filled abandoned home

By Lauren Pullen, http://globalnews.ca/

kittensIt’s a dangerous place to call home, but a pregnant cat in Oliver chose the roof of a dilapidated, asbestos filled house as the birthing place for her litter of kittens.

Sparrow the one-eyed cat gave birth to her kittens in April. She refused to bring them down from the roof and spent the next ten weeks bringing them food and caring for the young critters. But when a neighbour found out the home was set to be demolished in the coming weeks, she jumped into action to save the animals, calling local non-profit rescue group AlleyCATS Alliance.

With the dangers faced going into the home, the rescue group knew it couldn’t save the cats alone, and called on crews from Total Restoration in Penticton to help. Read more

US cleanup would leave some asbestos in contaminated town

By Matthew Brown, Associated press

LibbyA long-delayed cleanup proposal for a Montana community where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure would leave some of the dangerous material inside houses rather than remove it, as government officials seek to wind down an effort that has lasted more than 15 years and cost $540 million.

Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, and the neighboring town of Troy were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Health workers have estimated that as many as 400 people have been killed and almost 3,000 sickened by asbestos dust from a W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine that operated outside Libby for decades.

Asbestos-containing vermiculite would be left behind only where it does not pose a risk of exposure to people, such as underground or sealed behind the walls of a house, EPA Libby team leader Rebecca Thomas said.

“You might have vermiculite in the walls. But as long as it’s sealed within plaster or behind drywall and nobody can breathe it, it does not pose a risk,” Thomas said.

Some residents worry the material eventually would escape. An EPA research panel concluded last year that even the slightest exposure to asbestos from Libby can scar lungs and cause other health problems. Read more

A Slippery, Asbestos Slope

By Ginger Christ, ehstoday.com

skiingThe EPA is requiring an Idaho ski and snowboard park owner to clean up debris contaminated with asbestos after the company improperly demolished buildings on its property.

Gateway Parks LLC in January 2014 purchased property next to its existing park near Eagle, Idaho, to expand operations.

The company in May 2014 had an asbestos inspection completed on eight buildings on the new site in preparation of demolition of said buildings. Asbestos was found and the consultant submitted a bid for abatement, which Gateway Parks rejected.

Gateway Parks instead in mid-2014 demolished some of the buildings without safely removing the asbestos or notifying the EPA. Read more

Asbestos removal starts at Clovis ‘haunted house;’ demolition to follow

BY Bonhia Lee, http://www.fresnobee.com/

hauntedasbestosMotorists driving by Wolfe Manor in Clovis will see some activity at the “haunted house” this week — not the paranormal kind, but enough to stir up some curious spirits.

Asbestos removal in the nearly century-old house, which was once used as a Halloween attraction and featured on a number of ghost investigation television shows, began Monday, paving the way for demolition of the building early next month.

The city of Clovis has forged ahead with plans to clean up the 1.25-acre property, southwest of Sierra Vista Mall on Clovis Avenue, after trying to work with owner Todd Wolfe on giving the house and the land a new life.

“We’ve been working with Mr. Wolfe for at least the last five years to do something with this site,” said John Holt, Clovis assistant city manager. “Ultimately, he was either unwilling or unable to either have investors put money in the project.”

Wolfe, however, is still trying to sell the house and even offers to donate it for free to the right buyer who is willing to move it. If all his efforts fail, he hopes to at least be given some time to salvage anything of historical value from the house so he can sell it later.

“We thought we had more time,” Wolfe said.

Clovis designated the house “unsafe to occupy” about two years ago. Then the city’s Board of Appeals declared the vacant house a nuisance last year and a danger after finding 22 building code violations.

The city described the structure as “unsightly and in a state of disrepair.” The roughly 5,000-square-foot house had excessive “cracking, peeling, chalking, dry rot and warping.” Read more

Rottnest Island: Asbestos confirmed in material found near holiday villas

By Nicolas Perpitch, http://www.abc.net.au/

asbestosislandIt said it was of very low risk, but the Australian Medical Association said that response was not good enough and all asbestos should be removed from the island’s accommodation.

Perth man Donovan Pryor last week alerted the authority to the substance, which he found outside bungalows in the Bathurst area, north of Thomson Bay.

The authority fenced off the area and sent samples to the mainland for testing.

It now says it has been advised the substance was white asbestos.

It said the material was intact and non-friable, and in this condition, it was of very low risk to anyone staying in the units or passing by.

Acting chief executive Greg Ellson said Rottnest is safe for visitors.

“Our first concern is the safety and peace of mind of our visitors,” he said.

“When this material was reported, we acted immediately to fence off the area.

“As a precaution, the site was fully remediated using a licensed asbestos management operator the following day.”

Mr Ellson said it was “regrettable that media reports have alarmed the public in this instance”.

The confirmation the material is asbestos comes despite comments by the authority’s chairman, John Driscoll, last week that all known asbestos from buildings on the island was inert and “not a threat”. Read more

State official fired after improper asbestos cleanup


BY Jordan Schrader, http://www.thenewstribune.com

prison

The state has fired the supervisor of an inmate work crew that used shoddy and potentially dangerous work practices in cleaning up asbestos, records show.

The Department of Corrections earlier paid a more than $70,000 fine and closed down its asbestos abatement program.

The agency deployed a crew of about eight male inmates from Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock in June 2013 to remove and dispose of 4,000 square feet of old vinyl floor tiles and adhesive in a dining area of the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy.

In charge was Gary L. Baldwin, the head of the asbestos program. Baldwin is a 19-year veteran of the agency with 15 years as a certified asbestos supervisor and a clean record of performance evaluations.

At times, the inmates didn’t wear proper protective equipment or soak the dry material in water to keep dust out of the air. The crew continued working even after realizing the air-circulation system couldn’t be turned off, and it missed a spot while putting up a barrier around the dining area.

“Your actions potentially placed offenders, employees, and yourself at risk of life threatening diseases and death, as well as placed the agency at an enormous risk of future liability,” Danielle Armbruster, assistant director of DOC’s Correctional Industries, wrote in a letter dismissing Baldwin.

The agency provided the April 15 letter in response to a records request.

Baldwin is appealing the decision, the agency said. Attempts to reach him last week were unsuccessful.

When questioned by investigators, he alternately described what was done as common practice and blamed inmates for failing to follow procedures they had been taught.

After 24 Years, Program Employing Inmates for Asbestos Removal Comes to an End

By Rick Kornak, http://www.mesothelioma.com

Washington state’s Department of Corrections (DOC) has put an end to a 23-year-old program that employed inmates for asbestos abatement projects.

Although the DOC has claimed the matters are unrelated, the program’s termination comes not long after a recent investigation by the Department of Labor and Industries, which found that seven crew workers at the Washington Corrections Center for Women may have inhaled asbestos-containing dust in June, 2013. The work involved two nine-hour shifts of removing contaminated floor tiles.

“They were allowing the workers to be exposed to asbestos,” said Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor and Industries. Although the amount of exposure is unclear, Fischer pointed out that any inhalation of asbestos fibers can be detrimental to one’s health. “There’s no minimum safe amount of exposure,” she said. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers can lead to a variety of respiratory health problems, including fatal afflictions, such as mesothelioma.

The DOC was originally fined $141,000 for the violations, but this amount was halved when the agency agreed to do additional training and purchase more equipment. The inmates were trained and certified for asbestos removal, but the investigation done by the Department of Labor and Industries led to the discovery that proper procedures were not being followed at all times. The contaminated material was not always wet down, as it should be, and masks, gloves, and other protective equipment was worn inconsistently. Read More