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Asbestos hazards prompt EPA to halt demolition work

Release Date: 09/18/2008
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA (September 18, 2008) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued two orders to Rock Springs Enterprises Inc. to cease demolition work at the site of a former pottery-manufacturing facility in Chester, Hancock County, W. Va. because of potential health hazards from asbestos and damage to a previously-constructed soil cap at the site.

The former owners of the site, Newell Holdings Delaware, Inc., installed an 11-acre soil cap earlier this year at the site to cover more than 117,000 cubic yards of ceramic pottery waste and soils contaminated with lead, PCBs, and other hazardous substances. The property, located at 8th and Plutus streets, is now owned by Rock Springs Enterprises, a West Virginia company.

In August, inspectors from EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection determined that Rock Springs Enterprises had begun demolition work on the abandoned factory building located adjacent to the capped site. According to inspectors, this work could create an environmental and health hazard by disturbing suspect asbestos materials and also damaging the recently completed cap.

Under one of EPA's orders -- filed under the Clean Air Act -- Rock Springs must halt its demolition activities. According to the order, asbestos has been found in the building, and there is a risk of airborne releases of asbestos fibers. The order alleges, among other things, that Rock Springs failed to notify officials prior to beginning demolition. It also requires Rock Springs to have a certified asbestos inspector determine the extent of asbestos in the building prior to further demolition.

EPA's other order -- filed under the Superfund program -- specifically requires Rock Springs to refrain from disturbing the cap at the site. According to this order, during the last two weeks of August, EPA discovered that Rock Springs was conducting demolition and metal-scrapping activities at the site that were damaging the cap and subjecting it to erosion. Under the order, Rock Springs must refrain from disturbing the cap and maintain a fence around the site and vegetation on the cap.

Rock Springs can resume demolition work when it complies with EPA's orders.