February 18, 2019

SCRD sounds alarm on asbestos drywall

Drywall that contains asbestos could end up in the woods unless action is taken at all steps of the disposal process, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) worried at its March 1 infrastructure services committee.

The committee sounded the alarm over what it saw as an impending problem in hazardous waste disposal, calling for a meeting of stakeholders at all levels of the disposal process and requesting the provincial government take action.

Last October, drywall recycler New West Gypsum (NWGR) implemented a new screening process for materials entering the facility in order to comply with a WorkSafe BC order.

The new screening method has meant fines for first and second offenders delivering drywall found to contain asbestos to the recycler. A third offence can mean “a permanent ban from any and all NWGR facilities.”

Loads of drywall delivered to SCRD landfills have been routed to NWGR for processing.

Like many landfills in the province, the SCRD has moved toward recycling in response to evidence that land-filled gypsum, a product that can easily be re-used, tends to produce toxic gases as it breaks down.

Drywall made before 1984 is more likely to contain asbestos in the joint compound. To avoid losing access to its recycler in Vancouver, the SCRD will need to find a way to separate the possibly hazardous materials from the clean.

“That’s the problem,” said sustainable service manager Dion Whyte. “I think the solution here really is to get mechanisms in place further up the supply chain where we’re actually dealing with this stuff as it’s coming out of homes.”

One option is to purchase expensive screening equipment like a handheld infrared analyzer, which can cost as much as $30,000.

Another, cheaper option is to refuse pre-1984 gypsum at the landfill altogether.

But that could increase the risk, as ultimately drywall that contains asbestos must be treated at a hazardous materials incinerator before being land-filled – generating worry that the materials could end up illegally dumped in the woods, rather than shipped to Swan Hills, Alta. where such a facility operates.

On the Sunshine Coast, one company that is qualified to carry out asbestos removal from buildings is Solution Based Construction.

“We don’t want it ending up in our woods,” said owner Darren Kopeck. “The biggest thing is the documentation that has to follow each piece of drywall around and make sure it is clean. If it isn’t, it doesn’t get taken.”

Once asbestos is identified in a home or building, the owner must hire someone like Kopeck to carry out the tedious process of removal while abiding by strict safety standards.

Disposal means hiring another company to transport the hazardous material to a facility as far as Swan Hills, where the waste is burned at high temperatures. The added cost could increase the likelihood of the materials simply being illegally dumped instead.

“We can take most types of hazardous waste, but it just comes down to what’s practical,” said Zoltan Nevelos, technical sales representative with the Swan Hills Treatment Centre.

Nevelos dismissed rumours that the facility would be closing its doors to customers in B.C., but said the distance and difficulty of transporting the waste could make incineration an impractical option.

Over at NWGR, spokesperson Cheryl McKitterick said the new policy is designed to protect employees, and screening procedures can be avoided by having proper documentation.

But, said McKitterick, “the ramification of this is causing some significant potential of escalating issues in different municipalities.”

The fines are designed to target contractors, and so far one has been issued.

© Copyright 2015 Coast Reporter

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SCRD sounds alarm on asbestos drywall

3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Students displaced from a Huntington Beach grade school will begin returning to campus on Tuesday, more than three months after three schools were closed because of an asbestos scare.

Many of the students who attended the three campuses have been bused to schools elsewhere in Orange County at a cost of $50,000 a week while school officials struggled to deal with the asbestos concerns.

In all, the closures displaced more than 1,600 students.

On Tuesday, students in grades 3 through 5 will return to Oak View Elementary and be reunited with classmates in portable buildings.

Two other campuses, Lake View and Hope View elementary, remained closed.

Since Oak View was closed in October, more than 600 Oak View students, including kindergartners, have been attending classes at Village View Elementary, Oak View Preschool, Pleasant View School – all in the Ocean View district – and Walter Knott Elementary in Buena Park.

The district is working on a timeline for asbestos cleanup at Oak View. The potentially hazardous mineral fiber was discovered at some schools during an 11-campus modernization project that began in July.

When the schools were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

Rising costs caused the district board of trustees to vote last month to delay asbestos removal and modernization construction at Oak View.

According to district documents, air samples taken at Oak View in October did not contain asbestos levels above standards set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings like schools.

At a recent board meeting, several parents of Oak View students said they were worried about their children falling behind academically while attending temporary schools.

The children lack access to computers at Knott Elementary and can’t practice for automated Common Core tests like their peers can, parents said.

Oak View serves a large number of English as a Second Language students and low-income families, many of whom receive free or reduced-price meals at school, according to California Department of Education data. The relocations have divided siblings and disrupted families, some of whom count on social and family services available at Oak View, teachers told the school board last month.

Special-education teacher Rhonda King said one of her second-graders was accustomed to attending Oak View with his sister, a third-grader. Now he is at Village View in Huntington Beach while his sister is bused to Buena Park.

“He tells me he misses his sister,” King said. “That’s not just one family, it’s a lot of families.”


For more education news, follow @NicoleKShine on Twitter

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Tubman asbestos abatement discussed at council

Demolition continues at the city of Chattanooga's former Harriet Tubman housing complex in East Chattanooga on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Demolition continues at the city of Chattanooga’s former Harriet Tubman housing complex in East Chattanooga on Monday, November 17, 2014.

Photo by

Dan Henry


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What: Information meeting about asbestos abatement at Harriet Tubman demolition site

When: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: City Council committee meeting room

Chattanooga leaders don’t think there’s reason to worry about asbestos in the rubble of the Harriet Tubman development.

Some East Chattanooga residents hired to help demolish the former public housing site aren’t so sure.

Tim Newson, one of 14 East Chattanooga residents hired for the Harriet Tubman demolition, said that while he was on the job, only people actually removing asbestos wore safety equipment. Laborers working next to them didn’t even have face masks, Newson said.

Newson quit the $18.75-an-hour job because of his concerns. He and other East Chattanooga representatives concerned about potential airborne asbestos from the demolition are planning to attend a meeting of the City Council’s Economic and Community Development Committee meeting at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Councilman Moses Freeman, who represents the East Chattanooga area, said on-site engineers will give a report to the council addressing safety concerns raised by residents living near the area. Professionals will share their procedures for asbestos abatement.

Last week, Assistant City Engineer Dennis Malone said that the city contracted with environmental consulting firm S&ME, an East Coast firm with an office in Chattanooga, to study the Tubman buildings, make recommendations and draw up plans about abatement, and to approve the demolition plan by contractor Environmental Abatement.

Since then, S&ME has monitored the work and found no cause for concern about asbestos, Malone said.

Freeman said the meeting will focus on gathering information, not hearing complaints.

“We’re hearing a report based on a petition signed by a certain number of individuals who expressed concerns,” he said. “Getting information out about the process ought to allay the concerns, because we don’t think there is an asbestos problem.”

Robert Schreane, Hamilton County Coalition housing manager, said he got so many complaints from area residents worried about contaminants in the air that he emailed the Environmental Protection Agency asking for an investigation.

He sent the letter Monday, he said, not knowing that 37 East Chattanooga residents had submitted a petition asking the City Council to order independent environmental testing for airborne asbestos.

Schreane said the coalition makes no accusations of contamination, but it at least wants the EPA to check.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 757-6431.

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Tubman asbestos abatement discussed at council