Asbestos-contaminated soil adds up to half-million-dollar headache for Louisiana parish

16 Jun 2014 by under News

jefferson parish logo 100x100 Asbestos contaminated soil adds up to half million dollar headache for Louisiana parishA plan to fill land at a construction project with excess soil from an Army Corps of Engineers project turned into a half-million dollar headache for Jefferson Parish, La., officials when it turned out the soil was contaminated with asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is linked to serious illnesses, including , a rare and deadly form of cancer. When job site officials identified asbestos in the soil, the construction project had to be stopped until the hazardous material could be contained, properly disposed of, and the site cleaned and deemed safe for workers and the public.

It seemed at first a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. Construction of the 90-acre Churchill Technology and Business Park, a project of the Jefferson Economic Development Commission (JEDCO), called for extra soil to raise the elevation. Meanwhile, an excavation project by the Army Corps of Engineers at the Justice Canal and Oil Co. Canal had just finished and resulted in leftover soil.

The parish is responsible for disposing of excess materials from job corps sites, so it figured it could just donate that soil to the business park, located in Avondale, La. A deal was struck and the Corps transported the leftover soil to the business park site at no cost. However, when workers at the construction site began spreading the soil, they noticed what at first looked like pebbles scattered throughout the dirt. A JEDCO contractor became concerned and halted the dumping to test the soil, which revealed the .

Corps program manager Rachel Calico told the New Orleans Times Picayune an environmental test of the canal site had not shown the presence of any asbestos. She said she was not sure how the hazardous material turned up in the soil transported to the business park.

Removal of approximately 6,000 tons of asbestos contaminated soil and cleanup of the site has taken two years and cost a total of more than $570,000.

Public Works Director Kazem Alikhani said the parish would have been responsible for remediating asbestos found at the job corps site, so cleaning it up at the business park did not create much more of an expense than it would have had it been found at its original source.

However, parish officials noted because the hauled-in dirt was mixed with dirt at the construction site, the problem was compounded somewhat when the contaminated soil was mixed with uncontaminated, so the total volume of contaminated dirt increased.

The clean-up was declared complete June 12.

Source: Times Picayune

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