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EPA Cites Dry Asbestos Removal at WVU Coliseum
Release Date: 5/30/2002
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543
Contact: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited two asbestos contractors for improperly removing asbestos from the West Virginia University Coliseum in Morgantown, W. Va.
EPA’s complaint seeks a $35,000 penalty for alleged failure to keep asbestos-containing material adequately wet during removal and disposal.
The federal Clean Air Act requires that regulated asbestos-containing materials must be handled carefully. They must be kept wet to reduce the risk of hazardous asbestos particles floating in the air, and must be securely bagged for disposal.
As owner-operator of the coliseum, the university shares legal responsibility for the asbestos removal. The Board of Governors of West Virginia University is named in the complaint, along with USA Remediation Services Inc. of Warrenton, Virginia, and its subcontractor, Keystone Abatement Services Inc., a West Virginia corporation with offices in Swissvale, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh.
In the summer of 1999, the university closed the 30-year-old coliseum on its Morgantown campus after the arena’s concrete dome started shedding asbestos insulation into the air. Officials decided to remove the asbestos in order to eliminate any potential health threat to athletes, students and employees.
The university contracted with USA Remediation to remove asbestos insulation from the 130,000-square foot athletic arena . Subcontractor Keystone performed asbestos removal at the concourse, office and equipment ring levels in the building.
On May 4, 2000, inspectors from EPA and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection instructed contractors in the proper way to wet asbestos and handle it safely for disposal. The inspectors also urged university officials to assign staff to oversee the project, one of the largest asbestos removals ever undertaken .
On June 28, 2000, an unannounced inspection of a removal area isolated by plastic sheeting discovered dry asbestos-containing ceiling plaster scattered in a second floor hallway and office.
Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that was once heavily used to fireproof insulation and other building materials. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease.
WVU, USA Remediation, and Keystone have the right to request a hearing to dispute the alleged violations and proposed penalty, and may also request an informal settlement conference. EPA and the parties have been engaged in informal discussions about the alleged violations.
For more information on asbestos, regulations, and safe work practices, check out EPA’s asbestos homepage at www.epa.gov/asbestos/index.htm.