How often do you see demolition or construction projects happening in your local community? If you are like most people, it’s probably fairly often. Has it ever occurred to you that the resulting debris and dust that gets sent into the air we breathe could be deadly? Recently, in Eagle, Idaho, just northeast of Boise, the demolition of a ski and snowboard park created a potentially hazardous situation.
The park owner, Gateway Parks, neglected to remove asbestos found during the inspection of several buildings before they were demolished. Why is this a problem? When asbestos fibers are disturbed in any way, they quickly become airborne and an instant threat to anyone in the area – from construction workers to people walking near the site. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that affects the lungs, heart and abdomen.
Before the demolition, Gateway Parks hired a consultant to perform mandatory asbestos inspections on the 8-building property. When asbestos was found in all of the buildings, the consultant issued a bid to remove it. Gateway Parks denied the bid and demolished some of the buildings without removing the asbestos. The park owner was required by law to notify the EPA that there was asbestos present and then have it professionally removed. As a result of this negligence, Gateway Parks received an asbestos abatement Compliance Order from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA Gets Involved
When the EPA discovered that Gateway Parks ignored the asbestos findings, they began an investigation. Because the buildings were demolished without the asbestos having been removed, the entire site was now considered contaminated. Gateway Parks now must follow the federal guidelines for the safe cleanup of the rubble, including the control of the dust from the site of the demolition and the proper disposal of asbestos-containing materials. This is a time-consuming and expensive procedure that will be monitored by the EPA to ensure that the surrounding area is kept safe. The EPA has given Gateway Parks 60 days to comply and to follow all federal requirements for the asbestos removal from the other buildings on the site that have not yet been torn down.
Asbestos: The Real Danger to the Public
Only certified asbestos abatement professionals have the skills necessary for the safe removal, handling, and disposal of asbestos material. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in both rock and soil. It has been used for a long time in the building industry for fireproofing, insulation, and sound dampening properties. When disturbed through demolition, building, or home remodeling, the tiny fibers can be released into the air. When a person breathes in the fibers, the fibers can get stuck deep in the lungs, causing irritation, and the potential for mesothelioma. The effects of exposure usually are not detected for decades, but the outcome is severe.