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The former Goshen Johnson Control site has tested positive for asbestos causing concern amongst city officials and a quick response from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result, the EPA will work alongside Goshen to contain and possibly help clean up the discovered asbestos.
According to the city’s brownfield coordinator, Becky Hershberger, the snow and wet air have kept the asbestos contained, so everyone surrounding the area is safe as long as they don’t enter and disrupt anything on the grounds.
Keramida Inc., an environmental consulting firm, tested the area and the results indicated that over one-third of the site samples were contaminated with asbestos. More specifically, 115 samples were taken in total and 47 tested positive as being above the 1% regulatory limit.
A law firm requested for the inspection to be done because its attorneys are representing families who filed a lawsuit against the property’s owner. Both TOCON Holdings LLC and Johnson Controls are being sued.
The site originally started as Penn Controls in 1937 and merged with Johnson Controls in the 1980s. After growing to 1,300 people in 2006, the company moved its operations to Mexico and sold the site to TOCON. The Johnson Control buildings were demolished in 2012 and TOCON ended up filing for bankruptcy.
It was Mayor Jeremy Stutsman who received Keramida’s report and immediately contacted the EPA asking them to take “immediate steps to secure the site and take any measures necessary to protect the health of our city’s residents, particularly those who live in the immediate vicinity who may potentially be exposed to asbestos.”
“It is also imperative that the community be advised, in a public form, of this situation, the potential health consequences and the steps that are being taken to protect their health and safety,” wrote Stutsman.
On-scene coordinator with the EPA, Andy Maguire, followed up with Stutsman within hours letting him know they got a referral from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to look into the situation. Currently, he’s obtaining access to the property through the bankruptcy trustee.
“I will certainly work with your office, city department, IDEM, residents, and current property owners to keep everyone informed throughout,” Maguire wrote in his reply. The EPA plans to assess and mitigate any danger, make the proper documentation, and get funding for the cleanup, if needed.
IDEM asbestos removal requirements for demolition include inspection by an Indiana licensed asbestos inspector prior to construction. The inspector must let the IDEM know about this whether asbestos is or is not discovered.
In the case asbestos is found, the operator has to contact IDEM with a signed certification including information on how the removal will commence, a description of the work, and name and location of where it’ll be disposed.
“Nobody wants to own that [Johnson Controls property] right now,” said Goshen Superintendent Diane Woodworth.