When a building slated for demolition is found to be contaminated with asbestos, it sets off alarm bells: the risk of mesothelioma from airborne asbestos fibers is real, and special remediation action is required. A stark reminder of this can be seen in the town of Otsego, Michigan, where the demolition of the former Rock Teen Paper Mill’s power plant has just been approved with an eye-popping price tag of nearly $1 million.
According to Paul Ruesch of the Environmental Protection Agency, the high level of asbestos contamination in the building raised real concerns about mesothelioma risk, especially in light of the building’s structural defects. The cost to demolish the same buildings without asbestos contamination would have been less than half what this project will cost, and even in asbestos-contaminated buildings a less expensive process normally takes place, with asbestos surgically removed prior to the building being taken down. In this case, the EPA will be using a crane and claw operation to take the building down from the outside, constantly misting the property in order to prevent any dust from arising. After the building is down all materials will be sealed and removed for proper, specialized asbestos disposal. A team will be monitoring air quality in the vicinity, while another ensures that there is no asbestos contamination from any runoff of water from the misting operation.
Prior to regulations and safety procedures being put in place, the demolition of an asbestos-contaminated building risked mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases to both workers and those in the vicinity of the project. Funding for this type of operation is provided by the EPA’s Superfund site cleanup fund, though the agency will likely attempt to get compensation from the building’s previous owners.
The shift in the way that asbestos is handled is a direct result of actions taken after it was discovered that the mineral caused mesothelioma and other diseases. Unfortunately that information came too late for many of America’s veterans, who were exposed to the carcinogen while they served our country. If you have been affected by asbestos and you need information about your rights or the resources available to you, contact us today at 1-800-726-7245.