Casper, Wyoming - Before demolishing a long-abandoned house in the city of Casper, contractors should have tested for asbestos, officials say. Now their negligence has gotten them in trouble with the local Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which recently cited the city, as well as the contractor they used for the demolition, for not fully testing the residential building for the presence of the toxic mineral.
An article in the Star-Tribune reports that Recycled Materials, contracted by the city to handle the demolition, failed to sample enough material inside the old house to fully determine whether or not asbestos was an issue. Specifically, the DEQ Air Quality Division noted that there was insufficient sampling of lathe and plaster material and spray-on acoustic material as well as no sampling at all of the floor tiles or asphalt roofing at the site. Asbestos is often found in those products, especially in structures built previously to the end of the 1970s.
The article reports that some of the material had already been removed before inspectors visited at the end of February, but testing of the remaining material showed that there was 15 percent asbestos in the floor tiles and 5 percent in the tile adhesive. Chances are that workers may have inhaled asbestos fibers during the removal of the tiles, especially if they weren’t wearing protective masks. Such inhalation can cause respiratory illnesses to develop later in life, including mesothelioma cancer.
Steve Dietrich, air quality administrator, said notices were issued to both the city of Casper and the contractors.
“They have equal responsibility,” he said. “We take the regulation of asbestos materials seriously. First and foremost, we want to protect not only the workers but also the general public.”
Dietrich noted that the violations are punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 for each day the violation occurred and/or an injunction.