Improper asbestos removal incites community uproar in Ohio, but who’s to blame?

27 Jan 2016 by under News

asbestos warning 100x100 Improper asbestos removal incites community uproar in Ohio, but whos to blame?Asbestos removal is a serious process that requires the utmost caution in order to prevent exposure to its harmful particles. Unfortunately, several citizens near a building demolition project claimed on social media to have witnessed Port Clinton, , firefighters tearing down pieces of an old building without regard to the state’s safety protocols. However, thanks to some investigative reporting, the Sandusky Register discovered who the real culprits were.

“We didn’t do any of that,” Port Clinton fire Chief Kent Johnson told the Sandusky Register. “That was just a big misunderstanding.”

Exposure to asbestos – even in small amounts – may lead to the development of asbestos-related diseases including asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer. When asbestos is disturbed, as in demolition, excavation or clean-up projects, the microscopic asbestos fibers may be ingested or inhaled, posing a health hazard. Experts say there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

Last fall, some Port Clinton firefighters were involved with a training exercise that utilized the property prior to its demolition. Since the asbestos had not been tampered with, it was safe for firefighters, Johnson confirmed. While demolition did take place at the building, it was not done by the fire department.

According to the Sandusky Register, telecommunications company Ohio Telecom was responsible for tearing down parts of the property. The company had planned to move its main offices into the building, but wanted to try and tear down remnants themselves when the company CEO and property owner Mike Christensen received a demolition permit by Ottawa County. However, since the building was commercially zoned, the EPA requires a survey be done in case the property is hiding dangerous asbestos.

“It wasn’t firefighters working as firemen: They were my employees in their personal vehicles,” Christensen told the Sandusky Register. “Some people likely saw a bucket truck and thought it belonged to the city. But it was actually our bucket truck.”

Reports of the demolition did reach the EPA, which dealt Christensen a document citing the company for three health and safety violations for its attempted renovation project:

  • Failure to have an asbestos survey completed;
  • Failure to notify EPA of the demolition at least 10 days prior to beginning work; and
  • Failure to remove regulated asbestos-containing materials before renovations would break up the regulated materials.

No fines were associated with the EPA’s violations involving Ohio Telecom.

“Asbestos causes a serious health hazard,” EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce said. “Lung cancer and other complications are associated with exposure to asbestos. In this case, it wouldn’t just be bad for a neighborhood but also for workers at the demolition. Everyone should call the EPA or the local health department before they begin a major project so they understand what they’re dealing with.”

Source: Sandusky Register

 

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