Asbestos danger must be considered in removal of destroyed historic structure

29 Apr 2014 by under News

Nebraska Waterman Building KETV photo 100x100 Asbestos danger must be considered in removal of destroyed historic structureTown leaders in Plattsmouth, Neb., voted last week to allow the demolition and removal of a building under the watch of the Historic Preservation Board. The century-old Waterman building, which was located in downtown Plattsmouth, was destroyed by fire in January. The structure has been in limbo ever since, as the Preservation Board tried to decide if it could be saved and restored.

Evaluation of the ruined historic structure revealed the presence of asbestos, which means the state Department of Environmental Quality will have to oversee its demolition and the removal of possibly asbestos-containing debris. Because of serious health risks to demolition and construction workers, and to the public in general, the () has established strict guidelines for the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.

Asbestos exposure – in even tiny amounts – is linked to the development of serious asbestos disease, including mesothelioma. When crushed or broken, as in renovation or demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers may be released and inhaled or ingested. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that usually attacks the lining of the lungs or abdomen. There is no known cure for mesothelioma.

It is not surprising that a historic structure would contain asbestos. The material was used for many years in construction, usually for insulation or as a fire retardant. It was not banned from construction materials until the 1970s, and its use is still not fully banned in the United States.

The owner of the former Waterman building, Lee Larson, was in favor of having the structure, which burned down in January, demolished. He told KETV news that only a shell of the building remained, and he considered it unfixable and dangerous. He argued demolition was necessary, despite having put $350,000 worth of improvements into the structure since 1998.

“There is nothing left to save,” Larson told KETV. “I wish there was.”

Engineers agreed with Larson, totaling the structure. The Historic Preservation Board hoped at least some of the first floor business fronts located in the building could be saved. However, on April 22, the Board agreed with its owner and the engineers and gave permission for the structure to be removed.

The demolition and removal process is expected to take five to seven weeks.

Source: KETV

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