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Release Date: 12/21/2000
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Community Affairs Office, (617) 918-1064

Boston - EPA New England began demolition of the former Baltic Mills Building in Sprague, Connecticut this week. Demolition of the fire-ravaged five-story structure is necessary to permit access to asbestos-containing debris, drums and electrical transformers located inside the structure. This phase of the cleanup is expected to take two to three months to complete.

"Abandoned buildings do not make safe playgrounds for curious youth," said Mindy S. Lubber, EPA New England regional administrator. "And there is evidence that kids have found their way into the mill building structure where there is asbestos and debris that may be harmful."

EPA contractors have been working at the former mill for three weeks, securing the site to prevent unauthorized access, evaluating the structural integrity of the walls in preparation for demolition activities. EPA contractors will stage the old building debris in the adjacent parking lot. Following the demolition activities, contractors will conduct sampling for asbestos to further delineate the contaminated areas, sample the drums and electrical transformers to identify the contents and remove and safely dispose of all contaminated materials.

Youths, apparently trespassing in the mill, accidently set fire to the mill in August of 1999 when they used a cigarette lighter to remove a small fiberglass boat shell from its wooden mold. Fire quickly spread throughout the abandoned building, leaving only the brick and granite walls. The intense heat and convection from the fire spread asbestos roofing material and asbestos pipe insulation as far as six miles from the site. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and EPA New England responded to the fire emergency to cleanup the asbestos-containing debris during which 125 cubic yards of contaminated material was removed for safe disposal.