December 11, 2018

Emerson has cabinets containing asbestos removed

The Borough of Emerson had filing cabinets containing asbestos removed from borough hall in August, months after borough employees first expressed concern that they may have been emitting clouds of dust containing fibers of the cancer-causing material.

Clerk Carol Dray reported rumors of asbestos contamination in April, according to borough records. Borough Administrator Joseph Scarpa contacted Joint Insurance Fund (JIF), the borough’s insurance company, approximately three months later to ask for the name of an asbestos contractor to conduct tests.

“The question begs to be asked: Why did he wait until July to take any action…?” Dray inquired in an email to members of the governing body.

When asked, Scarpa gave no explanation for the lapse in time between when he received complaints about possible asbestos contamination and when he took action on the issue.

In a press statement Scarpa said, “I continue to believe that any of this asbestos information should not have been released by the borough clerk in the first place, as this is still clearly an open matter that involves the elements of personnel, potential litigation and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act] protections. The governing body recently saw fit to take the drastic measure of censuring a council colleague for supposedly releasing basically the same type of information… I will not elaborate on this matter anymore… out of fear of personal reprisal from the mayor and council, and because I believe it is not in the best interest of the borough.”

Purchased in 2009, the refurbished fire-proof cabinets showed visible deterioration, explained Mayor Carlos Colina in an interview. Detail Associates, Inc., an environmental engineering firm certified by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Department of Health, confirmed the presence of asbestos in the suspect cabinets and on documents inside them.

“It was the administrator’s role to address that. Why did it take him that long to take action?” Colina asked. “The positive test results and finding of asbestos fibers… was important enough to take action on an immediate basis.”

Following initial testing in mid- July, Stephen Jaraczewski, president of Detail Associates, Inc., explained that “Proper removal is highly recommended.” Nearly 20 days later, Best Removal Inc. Asbestos Removal Contractors & Consultants rid Borough Hall of the cabinets on Aug. 5.

Scarpa said to his knowledge there is no asbestos remaining in Borough Hall.

Although the cabinets reportedly discharged “poofs” of dust, air samples in Borough Hall tested in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency standards, according to an email from Jaraczewski to the borough.

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Emerson has cabinets containing asbestos removed

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