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Demolition of Old Meat Processing Plant Requires Asbestos Clean-Up

Pat Guth contributes news and insightful content for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Patricia Guth

December 16, 2011

Cincinnati, Ohio - The demolition of the former Kahn’s meat processing and distribution plant in the Camp Washington section of Cincinnati is causing concern about the presence of toxic materials that will be left behind when demolition is complete. Bulldozers began tearing down the buildings at the facility earlier this week, according to a report from WLWT-TV News.

Kahn’s, which became a division of Sara Lee in 1976, opened in Cincinnati in 1883, founded by German immigrant Elias Kahn. Though the business thrived through most of the 20th century, the building in which it was housed had been vacant since 2006, prompting concern from area residents about its condition and possible hazards inside and out.

Once the buildings on the 17-acre site are gone, there will still be a large amount of environmental clean-up that needs to be completed, announced city officials. They estimate that this process, which will include the clean-up of underground tanks and the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials, might take as much as a year to complete. When finished, a light industrial office park will take its place.

Keith Egan, soil and materials engineer for the city, assured everyone that the site would be cleaned properly before any new building would commence. "That covenant is recorded at the county offices so everybody knows for a lifetime, many, many lifetimes, everybody knows it has been cleaned," he told the media.

Asbestos in old factories is a common problem throughout the U.S. Decaying buildings are often strewn with asbestos, which was used primarily as insulation during much of the 20th century but could also be found in products such as cement, floor and ceiling tiles, drywall adhesive, plaster, paint, gaskets, packing materials, and more. Concern arises when the asbestos in old structures becomes old and damaged and is “friable”, releasing toxic dust into the air where it can be inhaled and may eventually cause diseases such as mesothelioma cancer. When demolishing an old asbestos-containing structure, asbestos removal by licensed professionals is often carried out before demolition begins.

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