If you drove by properties surrounding Davidson, North Carolina’s Metrolina Warehouse, once known as the Carolina Asbestos factory, over the past few weeks, you may have seen workers mowing lawns — in hazmat suits — as part of a cleanup effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A grassy hill covers a decades-old asbestos dump located behind the factory, and last fall the EPA found asbestos on 20 neighboring properties, launching a $3 million cleanup effort. According to WFAE 90.7, the EPA cut grass on the properties to further test for asbestos.
“It was humorous, because you see guys in full white suits and gas masks on, respirators on, pushing lawn mowers across the yard,” Tim Mascara, whose property is one that contains asbestos, told the news source. “Then they caught all the clippings and put ‘em on a truck and hauled ‘em off and tested ‘em.”
Those tests found no airborne asbestos, which is linked to an array of cancers including deadly mesothelioma, but cleanup of the asbestos already found on the properties is scheduled to take place the second week of May. To remediate the asbestos, EPA contractors will dig up the top foot or so of soil, lay down a plastic barrier and then fill yards with new, clean soil. Residents will have to move into hotel rooms provided by the EPA for a few days while the cleanup is underway.
Asbestos worries originated at the site after a Charlotte, North Carolina, developer proposed building an apartment complex on the factory’s grounds, which also contain asbestos. The project remains on hold as the developer and state officials wrangle over how to abate the factory’s grounds.