By Zen Vuong, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com
The City Council passed a resolution Tuesday declaring seven filing cabinets’ worth of public records “toxic” and had a contractor dispose of the infected files on Wednesday.
The documents were contaminated with asbestos dust or friable asbestos, so safety was a concern, said City Attorney Eric Vail.
“Because paper is porous, there’s no way to save the paper, and they essentially become toxic,” Vail said. “You’d have to have someone in a hazardous material suit scanning the documents (if you want to preserve them). It’s very costly and it’s also very dangerous.”
City staff provided the public with a 36-page list of 759 documents that Alliance Environmental Group, an asbestos removal service, removed from the city’s premises on Wednesday. Documents are listed in categories such as permits, agreements (with companies), city charter, legal and conflict of interest.
The list includes “original certificate from Secretary of State declaring incorporation of the City of Temple City” and “Sunnyslope Water Company versus City of Temple City,” which is categorized under “legal.”
While exposure to tiny, flexible asbestos fibers causes some people to develop health problems, others are unaffected, reported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Health dangers include chronic respiratory disease or lung, stomach and kidney cancers.
The public would misplace their concern if they worried the disposal of public documents dating back to 1964 and extending all the way to December 2012 is questionable, Vail said.
Other lawyers who specialize in public freedom of information rights are skeptical.
“Destroying documents that are less than two years old sounds like it violates the spirit of the public records act,” said Don Zachary, an attorney and adjunct professor at USC. “On its face, it sounds like this municipality is ignoring that reality in an effort to be super safe with regard to the asbestos dust.” Read More
- Asbestos Hazard Found in Public Library (mesothelioma.com)