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Archive for September, 2009

Mesothelioma-Causing Asbestos to be Removed from Fire-Damaged Building

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In the city of Moundsville, West Virginia, the demolition of the Fostoria building will continue despite the ongoing investigation into the nature of the fire that ravaged the building. The fire is of a suspicious nature because, according to Chief of Police James Kudlak, "There’s absolutely no electric in that building." The former glass factory was being prepared for demolition when a fire broke out two Saturdays ago. This fire has caused a minor setback for asbestos abatement crews. City Manager Allen Hendershot explained that "The fire makes it more difficult to do the abatement…But I don’t think it will be a major hurdle."

Asbestos exposure has been linked to the development of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the heart, lungs, or abdomen, and then moves rapidly through the body. No cure exists, but treatments like chemotherapy can help fight off the disease. Thousands are affected by this condition worldwide. In the United States, the cancer generally affects less than 3,000 new patients each year. It can take decades for mesothelioma cancer to develop after a person is first exposed to asbestos-containing materials.

The fire caused a roof collapse, and fire departments from four local areas took nearly a day to finally quench the flames. While a timetable has not been set, Hendershot said abatement and demolition will move forward. The site will eventually become home to a new shopping center, developed by Harold Games of GAB Enterprises. The project has received a $180,000 Brownfield Grant for the cleanup of the property. The asbestos at the site is present in floor tiles and window caulking in the center structures of the factory.

Plant responds to Zimbabwe’s Asbestos Ban

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

In Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare, Turnall Holdings Limited has secured a $5 million loan from the American financial institution PTA Bank. This loan will be used to purchase equipment for a new plant that will manufacture products that do not contain asbestos. A recent ban on asbestos products has forced many companies that once produced asbestos-laced goods to, quite literally, clean up their act.

Turnall chairman Herbert Nkala said, "The equipment being purchased is to manufacture asbestos-free products for the South African market in response to the asbestos ban that has since been promulgated in that country.” Asbestos exposure has been conclusively linked to the development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.

This cancer affects thousands of people all over the world each year. In the United States, mesothelioma affects less than 3,000 patients each year. No cure exists, but chemotherapy, surgery, and drugs like Alimta® may improve quality of life for those suffering from this disease. Mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 50 years. Once the first symptoms of mesothelioma develop, the disease rapidly moves through the body, often killing within mere months.

The South African asbestos ban affects plants located elsewhere in Africa who sell to the South African market. The plant in Zimbabwe is scheduled to open in about one year. Turnall also has holdings in Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. Sales of the non-asbestos products are expected to commence in the first quarter of next year. Prior to the ban, the sale of Zimbabwe’s chrysotile asbestos brought in $60 million each year.

Florida Officials Investigating Mishandling of Asbestos Pipe

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In Sebring, Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is currently investigating the alleged mishandling of a length of asbestos pipe during the Sebring Parkway Construction. "Our department is gathering information from the project site, the landfill and its personnel. In addition, we are interviewing witnesses who participated in the removal project including county personnel," Randal Landers of the DEP stated in a recent e-mail.

The Department of Environmental Protection needs to be notified by law if a project involved more than 260 linear feet of asbestos pipe. In addition, a licensed asbestos contractor must be on site to ensure that the asbestos removal is done properly. When improperly dealt with, asbestos particles can become airborne, and if those particles are inhaled or ingested a person may develop mesothelioma or lung cancer. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that can affect the lungs, heart, or lining of the abdomen. The disease affects less than 3,000 people each year, but those who contract the disease can die within months after being diagnosed. The majority of mesothelioma sufferers live for less than two years after being diagnosed.

Local landfill Director Ken Wheeler confirmed that a 25- to 30-foot section of pipe was found at a nearby landfill. He also added that he did not think it was asbestos pipe. "One of our operators found a large pipe and the DEP is checking to see if it is asbestos, and if it is, we will make sure that it is handled properly," Wheeler said.

But according to Rick Solis, a construction worker, "They acted recklessly," Solis said. "Not everyone is going to stand for it. Right is right."

Solis said that there was a great deal of pipe removed during the Sebring project. "We are talking thousands of feet of this pipe. The county took out over 1,000 foot of pipe, and much more was buried. Thousands of feet. Anyone working out there was exposed. Kids playing on the dirt piles, people walking their dogs, other county employees, were all exposed."

Asbestos and Mesothelioma Alert: EPA Oversees Asbestos Decontamination in Libby

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

A Montana country club is cleaning up contaminated dirt with supervision from the EPA after concerns about asbestos contamination were raised. The dirt was apparently contaminated with vermiculite, a naturally occurring mineral that contains asbestos.

The cleanup is currently ongoing on the front nine of the Cabinet View Country Club in Libby, a town made famous for its devastating asbestos disease problem. It has been reported that the project will cost $1.8 million.

EPA officials say workers are removing asbestos from underneath greens and tee boxes, and workers on the site have been seen wearing protective suits and safety gear. These precautions must be taken, as asbestos exposure can cause serious health problems, such as the cancer mesothelioma. EPA officials have stated that they hope to complete the work on the site by the end of the fall.

Once widely used in a number of products, vermiculite is now regulated in an effort to limit asbestos exposures. A former vermiculite mine in Libby, owned and operated by W.R. Grace & Co., has sickened hundreds of Libby residents. The Libby mine was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is attributed almost exclusively to asbestos exposure. The disease affects 2,000 to 3,000 people in the United States each year, and thousands more abroad. Instances of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses have spiked in Libby in recent years. A trial that ended earlier this year was particularly devastating for Libby residents, as Grace Executives were found not guilty of knowingly endangering those who worked in the mine and lived nearby.

Mesothelioma-Causing Asbestos a Health Concern for Missouri Mom

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

In Columbia, Missouri, concerns about asbestos at Jefferson Junior High School have caused one worried parent to remove her daughter from the school. Christine Doerr became a local activist, writing letters to the local newspaper and repeatedly speaking with school district officials to make sure they were conducting air quality tests and removing asbestos from Columbia Public Schools buildings.

Following an asbestos violation at the school, the school district was forced to hire a full-time air-quality inspector. In an effort to protect her daughter, Doerr removed her from the public school district in her community.

Maria Doerr is no now enrolled at Columbia Independent School, a private school. This transfer is the second of its kind this year.

“I would much rather Maria would have never been exposed to asbestos,” said Christine Doerr.

This past January, Columbia Board of Education member Ines Segert also pulled her son, Julian, out of public school and enrolled him at Columbia Independent.

Asbestos issues at the public school became more complicated on February 26th, when Doerr called the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to complain about traces of asbestos at the Jefferson Junior High School. The asbestos was allegedly present in a plaster ceiling. No information about this complaint is available.

According to the EPA, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, although not all people who are exposed to asbestos go on to develop serious health issues like mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is aggressive and always fatal.

Despite removing her daughter from the public school system, Doerr admits that thanks to the new air quality inspector, the school is a safer place. “I think Columbia Public Schools are safer now probably than they’ve ever been,” she said.

Mesothelioma-Causing Asbestos in Vermont School Causing Community Concern

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In Springfield, Vermont, many people have become increasingly concerned over asbestos present in the North School building. Members of the Springfield Select Board were offered the chance to buy the school and its surrounding land for $1, but the board is still wary of accepting the offer.

Larry Kraft, chairman of the Springfield School Board, told the Select Board that if the town does not want the land, the school board will try to sell it to a developer.

The Select Board said that they are hesitant to buy the school, which has been closed for two decades. Dealing with asbestos in the school could be an expensive proposition, and the asbestos must be removed by law before the building could be utilized.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, a rare form of asbestos cancer that affects less than 3,000 Americans annually but is always fatal.

In addition to asbestos concerns, the board expressed concerns that the other costs of bringing the building into the 21st century could be astronomical. Many community members, though, would like to go ahead with asbestos removal and renovations so that the building can be used again.

Local resident and Select Board member Jean Willard thinks that the school should become a community center, and the surrounding lands used for parks and recreations for the local children. Willard also advised her fellow board members to seek state or federal grants for the asbestos removal as the process is typically very costly.

Asbestos Cancer Victim Files Lawsuit Against 22 Defendants in Texas

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

A man from Galveston, Texas, was allegedly exposed to asbestos on the job, and it was that exposure that made him ill. Now, Mary Ann Sparkman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of that man, Jesse Frederick Cruz. Ms. Sparkman, who is a relative of Mr. Cruz, has filed the suit against 22 defendant companies. Mr. Cruz was formerly a laborer for Todd Shipyards Corp.

"Jesse Cruz was required to handle products containing asbestos and was exposed to other asbestos products present in the workplace," the original petition says. "While performing his normal duties, Jesse Cruz came into contact with the asbestos products manufactured, sold, designed, supplied, distributed, mined, milled, relabeled, resold, processed, applied, or installed by the asbestos defendants, which caused severe, permanent disabling and injuries to (Jesse) Cruz and the plaintiff."

Asbestos exposure is conclusively connected to the development of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer that is quite rare but always fatal. Individuals who have worked in certain occupations – construction workers, shipyard workers, and firefighters, for example – are considered to be at a heightened risk of developing an asbestos illness.

Ms. Sparkman has alleged that Mr. Cruz was never told of the hazards of working with asbestos, and his employers never explained how asbestos in the products he was working with could be dangerous. "Jesse Cruz reasonably and in good faith relied upon the false and fraudulent representations, omissions, and concealment made by the defendants regarding the nature of their asbestos-containing products and machinery requiring or calling for the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products," court documents stated.

The large number of defendant companies is due in part to Sparkman’s belief that the companies were working “in cahoots” with each other."The actions of all defendants aided, abetted, encouraged, induced, or directed the negligent and/or intentional acts of each and every other defendant," the suit says.

Asbestos-Laden Texas Apartments to be Demolished Due to Mesothelioma Cancer Fears

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

In Hurst, Texas, the asbestos-laden Sonterra Apartments are finally going to be torn down. In late 2007, the apartments were found to contain over 900 separate violations, ranging from broken windows to exposed wiring. Tenants were moved out shortly thereafter, in 2008.

The Sonterra Apartments have been closed for over a year, and the city is finally ready to demolish the slum-like buildings. Early work on the site has begun, including asbestos removal. The asbestos must be removed prior to demolition by law. Exposure to asbestos particles has been linked to mesothelioma, among other serious medical conditions.

The 15-unit Sonterra complex is currently being gutted. A track hoe has begun to knock down some the buildings, and according to officials, work on the site should be completed by December of this year. According to Mike Morgan, planning and development director, it is unexpected, but good, that Hurst was able to find someone who was interested in redeveloping the site. "We are 97 percent built out, and it’s been that way for several years," he said.

Morgan said the property is zoned for commercial, retail, office or hotel use. QuikTrip, which abuts the apartments, has purchased nearly 5 acres of the property with plans to expand their business, according to Mike Thornbrugh, QuikTrip spokesman. He said QuikTrip will add another gas pumping area, a back door, and 20 new parking spaces.

Morgan said, "This piece of property on the freeway is of value and it is now going to reach its potential," he said.

Sioux City Officials Share Asbestos Concerns

Monday, September 21st, 2009

In Sioux City, Iowa, city council members have become increasingly concerned over a local vacant building. The site is known to contain asbestos. Asbestos was once commonly used in decades past for a variety of applications.

Because the substance has a high resistance to damage caused by flames or chemicals, it was ideally suited as a building material. Asbestos was commonly used in floor and ceiling tiles, fireproofing, insulation for boilers and pipes, as well as caulking and adhesive. The material is no longer used in new construction due to federal regulations. Asbestos exposure is known to cause serious health problems like lung cancer and mesothelioma in some cases.

City council members have been asked to approve a contract to demolish the vacant apartment building. The company under consideration is Hebert Construction, of Sioux City, who say they can demolish the site for only $44,440. The building, located at 400-412 1/2 14th Street, has been declared a public safety issue by city officials.

Terry Nelson, inspections services manager, spoke at a press conference held by the Mayor. According to Nelson, the building’s owner has not taken care of the property. According to the Woodbury County Assessor’s website, the property is owned by Jolanta Bankowska, of Oakland, California.

Old stucco is falling from the building’s exterior. The asbestos-laden building has become a haven for vandals and transients. "The property is extremely unsafe," Nelson said. "We need people to stay as far away from it as possible."

U of Connecticut Fencing Club Discovers Mesothelioma-Causing Asbestos in Basement

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Members of the University of Connecticut Fencing Club uncovered asbestos in the basement of Hawley Armory last week. A fencer then contacted the university fire department. The fencing club uses the armory to store equipment.

John Kennedy, journalism major and vice president of the club, uncovered the asbestos while cleaning out a storage area with other club members. Kennedy noticed an insulated pipe running through the shed and the surrounding basement.

The insulation around that pipe was badly damaged, and Kennedy recognized that the insulation could contain asbestos. The fencing equipment, along with the fencers’ clothing, was confiscated for examination by the fire department.

University of Connecticut Deputy Fire Chief Mancini said that his officers instructed the club members to shower at the armory, and have their roommates bring them fresh clothing to minimize the risk of inhaling or transporting asbestos fibers from the scene. Asbestos exposure has been linked to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. According to Kennedy, he was also offered the option of leaving in a Haz-Mat suit.

According to Benjamin Lee, a psychology major and the fencing club’s treasurer who was also at the scene, the university’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety contacted him later in the week and revealed that the insulation at the site contained 3 percent asbestos fibers. "I am not too concerned with exposure because it was just once and not for very long," Lee said. Lee did note that it was odd that the entire pipe had been re-insulated, with the exception of the portion that ran through the storage area.