Investigators look into possible improper disposal of asbestos-containing debris at Des Moines renovation project

28 Feb 2014 by under Legal, News

Younkers Building Des Moines WIKI 100x100 Investigators look into possible improper disposal of asbestos containing debris at Des Moines renovation projectDES MOINES, Iowa – A dispute about the possible improper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing debris at a renovation project is heating up as contractors and inspectors debate the merits of an investigation. The disagreement stems from a renovation project at the former Younkers building – now known as the Flagship Building – in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The area in question is a section of drywall that was removed from the fifth floor of the building, encompassing roughly 300 square feet.

Tom Wuehr, an inspector with the Department of Natural Resources, helps enforce . The Des Moines Register reported that Wuehr raised the red flag about the incident on Monday, when he says workers at the job site told him the debris had been removed and disposed of as regular waste.

Asbestos-containing materials are required by law to be specially removed and contained to prevent the microscopic cancer-causing fibers from escaping, to protect workers and the public health. When asbestos fibers are released, they may be inhaled or ingested. This is tied to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that usually affects the lining of the lungs or the abdomen. Asbestos-containing debris must also be properly disposed of in a facility designed to handle the toxic waste.

When contacted by the Register, officials from Hansen Construction, the company in charge of overseeing the renovations, and , the company responsible for the asbestos removal, insisted the materials were properly removed. However, REW President Pet Walter acknowledged there really is no immediate way to prove that, since the materials in question are gone.

He told the Register, “… the wall is gone and the work is done. How do you show something that is no longer there?”

This is not the first time Wuehr has questioned the handling of asbestos at the Younkers renovation site. He had already cited the construction project for improper asbestos disposal a few months ago. Although he describe that incident and this latest one as “minor,” he told the Register it does indicate that there should be more scrutiny on the contractors involved.

Wuehr said he will review asbestos abatement reports and daily work logs from REW and Hansen Construction to determine if there are any discrepancies, and to verify the work was done when and how the contractors say it was.

Source: Des Moines Register

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