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December 10, 2018

City of Chicago accused of hiding asbestos

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) –

It was an underground surprise they hadn’t bargained for.

A southwest suburban contractor is suing the city claiming it hid dangerous asbestos buried under a construction site.

The site is now a police station on the near South Side at 14th and Blue Island.

The 12th District Chicago police station has been open for two years. However, the battle over what was discovered underground will rage on.

Fox 32: you call this an act of fraud?

“I did. And we do. We believe they fraudulently induced Harbour contractors to enter into the contract,” said attorney Charles Lewis.

Lewis represents Harbour contractors of southwest suburban Plainfield, which has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Public Building Commission of Chicago. That agency, which is headed by the mayor and made up of political appointees, is in charge of building and financing new construction for the city of Chicago and Cook County.

In 2010 the Public Building Commission, or “PBC,” awarded Harbour a 20-million dollar contract to build the new police station at 14th and Blue Island, on the site of the old ABLA public housing project.

The PBC said that the site had been inspected by an environmental company and nothing dangerous was found. But soon after construction began, a subcontractor employed by Harbour discovered underground heating pipes wrapped in cancer-causing asbestos running throughout the property.

Those pipes were installed in the 1930s and 40s to provide heat to the public housing buildings.

“You’ve got asbestos that has been dug up that is friable. It’s in the air,” Lewis said. “It creates safety hazards for Harbour’s people and the subcontractor’s people on the job site.”

The asbestos discovery also put the project on hold, which Harbour said cost them millions of dollars. As part of the lawsuit, Harbour filed to recover the funds. The company said it has uncovered evidence that the PBC knew about the asbestos, but ignored it.

Harbour alleges the agency instructed the environmental company inspecting the site to not dig test pits in areas where it knew there was asbestos.

In an email from 2011 included in the lawsuit, a PBC official refers to a drawing used “…to avoid the steam lines during test pitting activities.”

“Absolutely they were trying to hide this,” Lewis said. “Because it would cause tremendous delay to the project and additional cost.”

A PBC spokesperson said the agency categorically denies there was any attempt to hide the asbestos, saying it was a surprise to them, too, noting that a judge has dropped two of the fraud counts from the lawsuit.

The PBC said Harbour needs to file a claim under the contract to get any money it’s entitled to, and not file suit.

Harbour has helped build dozens of projects for the Public Building Commission, including the international terminal at O’Hare. But the company’s attorney says after this experience, no more.

“My client will never work for the Public Building Commission again. I’m sure there are a number of general contractors out there who won’t work for the public building commission again,” Lewis said.

The Public Building Commission paid for the asbestos removal at the site, but Harbour contends the delays cost it millions. The PBC concedes some of that, but said there were other cost overruns by Harbour that had nothing to do with the hazardous materials.

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City of Chicago accused of hiding asbestos

Moon Area parents voice concerns about asbestos removal

Some parents in the Moon Area School District are concerned about the district’s plan to remove asbestos from two elementary schools during the nine-day spring break instead of over summer vacation.

About 20 parents attended two sessions Tuesday to discuss the removal of asbestos-containing vinyl floor tiles as part of $26.2 million in improvements planned at Allard and Brooks elementary schools.

The asbestos removal is scheduled to begin the evening of March 27 and be completed by April 2 to allow time for Allegheny County to review the project and for the district to install flooring and return furniture to rooms. The district’s spring break is March 28-April 5.

Will Nicastro, department manager with Professional Services Industries Inc. of Pittsburgh, said the floor tiling is “non-friable,” meaning it is resistant to crushing or pulverizing by hand, and it should be easily pried from the floor.

Testing and multiple cleaning processes will be used throughout each phase of the removal project, he said.

Some parents said they felt reassured after hearing the presentation, while others remained adamant that the project should be done over summer break, with the start of the 2015-16 school year delayed by one week.

School directors Jerry Testa and Michael Hauser were the only board members who attended either of the Tuesday sessions. Mr. Testa said he would prefer to delay the start of the 2015-16 school year.

“Based on what I heard tonight, I am even less comfortable than when I voted last Monday,” Mr. Testa said, referring to the Feb. 9 board meeting where directors voted 7-2 to approve plans that included the bidding of the asbestos projects. He and Mr. Hauser were the two dissenters.

It may be less expensive for the district to have the work done over spring break because firms are busy in June with summer construction projects, said Joe Kuchnicki, principal contractor with PSI.

PSI would prefer to do abatement work while students are not in building, he said, although local districts, including Montour and Mt. Lebanon, have done this type of abatement while students are in the building by closing off sections of the school from use. Doug Finke, PSI project manager, said other districts, such as North Hills, have conducted this type of abatement during weekends.

Some were concerned the time frame was too short for the work.

“I don’t want it done helter skelter,” said Basel Masry, an Allard parent. “By rushing it, you are setting it up for a fail.”

Mr. Kuchnicki called the timeline “somewhat of an aggressive schedule, but it is meet-able.”

At the Brooks session, where parents also brought up that concern, superintendent Curt Baker said, “The risk level is exceptionally low. There is no reason to put it off.”

PSI will not be the firm removing the asbestos as indicated during the Feb. 9 board meeting. It will monitor the contractors that are hired to complete the projects. Air quality testing will be completed by PSI throughout the abatement process. On-site tests will be performed before and during the project, including areas outside of the sealed work areas. Final air quality readings will be completed at the company’s main laboratory in Pittsburgh.

Open bidding on the project is to end March 2. The school board is scheduled to vote to select the firm or firms on March 9.

Further asbestos abatement, including insulation and boiler room work at Brooks and window work at Allard, will be completed during the summer. The window work will be done in conjunction with the installation of new windows.

Abatement also is expected to occur during the summer at R. Hyde Elementary in preparation for transforming it into a district learning center.

Sonja Reis, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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Moon Area parents voice concerns about asbestos removal

Indigenous leader criticises lack of warning about asbestos contamination on bush healing farm site

Rod Little near the government owned site reserved for an indigenous bush healing farm near Tidbinbilla.

Rod Little near the government owned site reserved for an indigenous bush healing farm near Tidbinbilla. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The chairman of the ACT’s elected indigenous body says he was not warned of asbestos contamination at the site of a bush healing farm his constituents have spent years fighting for.

The Ngunnawal bush healing farm, a specialised Indigenous drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, finally started construction two months ago, following a protracted legal battle that had stalled the project for years.

Last week, it was publicly revealed that asbestos contamination had been discovered at the site at Miowera, a property in the Tidbinbilla Valley, something the government says is common across development sites in the ACT.

ACT Health contacted the subcontractor and work was halted on the farm on December 2.

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Local indigenous community leaders have long pushed for such a facility, arguing it is an essential place of healing needed to help the rehabilitation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the ACT.

Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body chairman Rod Little said his organisation, which acts as a voice for indigenous people in the ACT, was not told of the asbestos problems. He said he only found out about the site’s contamination through news reports.

But the government says that other members of the elected body were informed of the contamination issues, even if Mr Little was not.

Health Minister Simon Corbell said the two members were told of the remediation at the site through their involvement on the advisory board for the project itself.

Mr Little now fears the contamination will push up costs and cause further delays to the farm, which he says is needed to help stop suffering within local communities.

“To only learn about the most recent developments in the paper, it’s concerning,” Mr Little said.

“We’ve been established … to have a relationship with the government about matters that impact on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”

“The elected body represents the whole of the community, and this is a project which is supposed to benefit the whole of the community.”

Mr Corbell said the discovery of such asbestos was common across development sites in the ACT.

He said it was neither “unusual or exceptional” to find such contamination.

“ACT Health has established mechanisms to communicate with representatives of the ACT indigenous community,” he said.

“Regular information sharing and consultation with the indigenous community will continue as this project develops.”

Mr Little has urged the government to commit to the same number of beds as originally planned, even if the contamination drives up the costs of the project.

He’s also warned the government it should not delay looking at alternative sites if any rising costs make the site unviable.

The land was purchased by the government in 2008, but has faced repeated planning objections by neighbouring landowners.

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman used his call-in powers to override those objections in October with work beginning in November.

The asbestos contamination at the 320-hectare site was due to remnants of two bonded asbestos sheet houses that were razed in the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

Asbestos fencing has also been bulldozed over the years, leaving asbestos footings in the soil, while asbestos sheeting from the old Cotter Pub also remains, as does asbestos which has been dumped in a landfill gully.

Despite the contamination, ACT Health believes the exposure risk to workers and nearby landowners is “extremely low”.

“Its presence at the Ngunnawal Bush Healing Farm site is being managed in an appropriate way, with an asbestos management plan in place,” Mr Corbell said.

“Remediation of bonded asbestos on site is part of the current tender package for this project.”

Mr Little said ACT Health first contacted him on Thursday afternoon.

He said it was important for the government to maintain communication with the indigenous elected body, which is currently in the process of negotiating a whole of government agreement.

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Indigenous leader criticises lack of warning about asbestos contamination on bush healing farm site

Major Asbestos Violations Result in $370,000+ in Fines for Two Companies

An investigation by Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) into a demolition project at a Seattle apartment building found a total of 19 willful and serious safety and health violations. As a result, the two businesses involved in the project have been fined a total of $379,100.

Partners Construction Inc., of Federal Way, Wash., was cited for a total of 14 willful and serious violations and fined $291,950. Asbestos Construction Management Inc., of Bonney Lake, Wash., was fined $87,150 for five willful and serious violations.

The violations were for asbestos exposure to workers, asbestos debris left on site and other violations that occurred during demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood. The three-story, five-unit apartment building was originally constructed with “popcorn” ceilings, a white substance containing asbestos fibers, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can lead to asbestosis, a potentially fatal disease, as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Removal of asbestos-containing building materials must be done by a certified abatement contractor who follows safety and health rules to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. The contractor also must ensure proper removal and disposal of the asbestos materials.

Partners Construction Inc., a certified asbestos abatement contractor at the time, was hired by the building owner to remove the asbestos before the apartment building was demolished.

After several weeks, Partners provided the building owner with a letter of completion indicating that all asbestos had been removed. When L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, the inspectors found that the removal work had not been done and approximately 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling remained throughout, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Partners came back to finish the abatement work; however, due to a prior history of willful violations, L&I was in the process of revoking Partners’ certification to do asbestos abatement work. In May, Partners was decertified and went out of business.

A new company, Asbestos Construction Management Inc. (ACM), owned by a family member of the Partners owner, took over the job using essentially the same workers and certified asbestos supervisor as Partners, and sharing the same equipment.

A subsequent L&I inspection of ACM found many of the same violations as in the Partners’ inspection. L&I has initiated decertification action against ACM.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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Major Asbestos Violations Result in $370,000+ in Fines for Two Companies

Asbestos removal clears the way for use of old fire hall

The old fire hall has been cleared of asbestos and is ready for a tenant to take it over.

“The asbestos at the fire hall has been dealt with,” CAO Wayne Staudt said at the Sept. 15 council meeting. “So we have got a report from the consultant firm that oversaw the work.”

Staudt said that meant the building is now ready for any kind of construction work or a tenant.

While a Memorandum of Understand has been signed between the City of Cranbrook and the Cranbrook and District Arts Council, CAO Wayne Staudt confirmed that there are still “no definite plans for any group to move into the old fire hall at this time.”

At the end of August the city received a project closure report from Peak Environment Ltd, the professional consultant hired to oversee the project including the monitoring and inspecting services.

Peak Environment Ltd has certified that the building can be reoccupied without concerns regarding possible asbestos exposure.

Napp Enterprises was selected to perform the removal of hazardous and regulated materials.

The work was performed in accordance with WorkSafe BC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations regarding asbestos and other hazardous materials.

The project is reported to be coming in under budget, with the project expected to come in at $110,000. The initial budget was $130,000.

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Asbestos removal clears the way for use of old fire hall

Boulder City bypass gets green light after asbestos testing shows no threat

Image

Nevada Department of Transportation

This artist’s rendering shows what the redesigned interchange of Boulder City Bypass and U.S. 93 would look like at Railroad Pass. Railroad Pass Casino is at left. If U.S. 93 is designated an interstate between Las Vegas and Phoenix, the bypass route would become part of the interstate, officials say.

Click to enlarge photo

This Nevada Department of Transportation graphic shows the route of the proposed Boulder City Bypass.

After a frustrating seven-month delay to allow for hundreds of tests of asbestos-tainted soil, construction of a bypass highway around Boulder City is back on track.

Officials with the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada gave the green light after concluding workers could safely cut the highway through the hills around Boulder City because the asbestos, discovered by UNLV geologists in 2011, did not reach harmful levels. Construction is slated to begin in the spring, officials said today.

Asbestos, in strong enough concentrations, can trigger respiratory problems including scarred lungs and, in extreme cases, cancer.

To play it safe, construction zones will be heavily watered to prevent asbestos from becoming airborne and exposing workers. Additionally, there will be continued soil testing and real-time air sampling and, if exposure levels become unacceptable, contactors can halt work and launch additional mitigation, NDOT Project Manager Tony Lorenzi said.

The news “is a relief to everyone,” said Boulder City Mayor Roger Tober. “While initially the asbestos discovery caused alarm, this is just good news. For the levels that are there, there will be some mitigation, but it’s going to be taken care of.”

The $490 million highway project, more than 10 years in the making, would wend around Boulder City so traffic can move smoothly between Las Vegas and Arizona. Until the bypass is built, tourists, truckers and commuters must use U.S. 93, which slices into town where traffic slows miserably on busy days.

The bypass is envisioned as the first link in Interstate 11, a proposed interstate highway connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Testing conducted over the summer confirmed the presence of asbestos but concluded it was not at a threatening level.

The project will be conducted in two phases by NDOT and the RTC. Each agency conducted its own tests to meet their respective regulations.

“Phase 1 is what we are calling clean,” Project Manager Tony Lorenzi said.

The first phase, a 2.5-mile connector starting at U.S. 95 and heading easterly toward the Colorado River, is NDOT”s responsibility. Tests of 150 soil samples showed no asbestos concentrations higher than 0.25 percent, deeming them safe. The second phase — RTC’s 12.5-mile stretch that finishes the bypass to the east — involved testing of 461 samples for concentrations less than 1 percent. Fourteen samples tested above 1 percent.

These concentrations are standard for construction sites where there’s naturally occurring asbestos.

“The most important thing is the comfort of the public,” Lorenzi said. “We want them to know that construction will be done safely, in compliance with every agency. We’re doing it right.”

The asbestos findings will be discussed at an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Elaine K. Smith Center Building, 700 Wyoming St., Boulder City. Representatives from Boulder City, the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, NDOT and the RTC will be there to discuss the project.

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Boulder City bypass gets green light after asbestos testing shows no threat

Asbestos fine tied to councillor

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Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser Mansour Razaghi said he became alarmed after seeing workers without complete asbestos protective gear working in close proximity to passing school children.

”The kids were just one or two metres away from the excavation machine and from where a worker was hand-picking the asbestos fragments from the soil,” he said.

The site also lacked appropriate fencing, public warning signs about asbestos and decontamination for trucks and workers leaving the site, Mr Razaghi said.

However, Cr Mehajer accused ”a third party” of planting some of the potentially deadly material in a bid to discredit him.

Cr Mehajer said long-buried asbestos had been found but later questioned the quantity, professing to be ”familiar with every soil grain” at the John Street address.

”For me to come across contaminated soil with asbestos really does raise concerns to who trespasses my site after hours and dumps such hazardous material to target me,” Cr Mehajer said in an email.

Asked who he thought was behind such a plot, Cr Mehajer responded: ”Maybe you?”

But another Auburn councillor, Tony Oldfield, dismissed Cr Mehajer’s suspicions as ”a really stupid comment”.

”The reason we found out about asbestos was by accident,” said Cr Oldfield. ”The complaints from local residents were actually about the dust coming from the site.”

Mr Razaghi claims asbestos sheeting was also being removed from an adjoining Ann Street property owned by Cr Mehajer and damaged by fire.

Work has resumed at the site this week.

A Department of Education and Communities spokesman said Lidcombe Public School had been unaware of the asbestos exposure when contacted by Fairfax Media this week.

But Cr Mehajer denied that there had been any safety breaches by his company, Sydney Project Group, or its subcontractor, pointing to an air-monitoring report that found calculated concentrations of asbestos fibres to be less than the reporting limit of 0.01 fibres/mL.

”I do go that extra mile and undertake further [safety] procedures [that] not even a site the size of Barangaroo will undertake,” he said.

WorkCover said it was satisfied with the asbestos management after visiting the Lidcombe site this week. Auburn Council said it would continue to monitor compliance.











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Asbestos fine tied to councillor

Children exposed to asbestos

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Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser Mansour Razaghi said he became alarmed after seeing workers without complete asbestos protective gear working in close proximity to passing school children.

”The kids were just one or two metres away from the excavation machine and from where a worker was hand-picking the asbestos fragments from the soil,” he said.

The site also lacked appropriate fencing, public warning signs about asbestos and decontamination for trucks and workers leaving the site, Mr Razaghi said.

However, Cr Mehajer accused ”a third party” of planting some of the potentially deadly material in a bid to discredit him.

Cr Mehajer said long-buried asbestos had been found but later questioned the quantity, professing to be ”familiar with every soil grain” at the John Street address.

”For me to come across contaminated soil with asbestos really does raise concerns to who trespasses my site after hours and dumps such hazardous material to target me,” Cr Mehajer said in an email.

Asked who he thought was behind such a plot, Cr Mehajer responded: ”Maybe you?”

But another Auburn councillor, Tony Oldfield, dismissed Cr Mehajer’s suspicions as ”a really stupid comment”.

”The reason we found out about asbestos was by accident,” said Cr Oldfield. ”The complaints from local residents were actually about the dust coming from the site.”

Mr Razaghi claims asbestos sheeting was also being removed from an adjoining Ann Street property owned by Cr Mehajer and damaged by fire.

Work has resumed at the site this week.

A Department of Education and Communities spokesman said Lidcombe Public School had been unaware of the asbestos exposure when contacted by Fairfax Media this week.

But Cr Mehajer denied that there had been any safety breaches by his company, Sydney Project Group, or its subcontractor, pointing to an air-monitoring report that found calculated concentrations of asbestos fibres to be less than the reporting limit of 0.01 fibres/mL.

”I do go that extra mile and undertake further [safety] procedures [that] not even a site the size of Barangaroo will undertake,” he said.

WorkCover said it was satisfied with the asbestos management after visiting the Lidcombe site this week. Auburn Council said it would continue to monitor compliance.











View article:

Children exposed to asbestos

Asbestos May be Involved in Illegal Islip Dumping

The Town of Islip in Long Island, New York is looking to file lawsuits against contractors who allegedly illegally dumped debris containing asbestos within the Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. According to Newsday, the contractors may also be criminally charged by the Suffolk County district attorney. To make sure that asset liquidation does not occur, the Town of Islip will also be seeking civil restraining orders against companies involved in the dumping.

“We want to prevent any of these people that are responsible for this criminal conduct from corporate protection by selling off assets of their corporations,” said councilman Anthony Senft. “So that when we come after them and get judgments in the favor of Town of Islip, they [can’t say they] have no assets.”

According to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, an estimated 32,000 tons of debris were dumped in the park by at least one “unscrupulous contractor”. Some of this debris contained asbestos concentrations as high as 44 percent. Spota called the dumping an “environmental nightmare” and experts estimate that the cleanup could cost seven figures.

Last year, a church located a mile north of the park asked for donations of clean soil to fix holes in its soccer fields after running out of its own resources. This request prompted contractors to dump illegal fill as early as June. According to Newsday, prosecutors said the debris came from New York City and Long Island.

The park has been closed indefinitely since April 23rd. This closure has stopped a $1.5 million swimming pool rehabilitation project, which was set to open next month. According to Newsday, a full analysis may take until early June.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Spota said his investigators are working to determine if anyone in the government was aware of illegal dumping at the time it occurred. According to Senft, who is the council’s liason to the parks department, the debris was “placed illegally without the permission” without the permission of the town. Spota said that the contractors who worked on the project were hired by the church, and that he believed the church was not to blame.

Asbestos fibers are easily ingested or inhaled when they are airborne. When breathed in, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as breathing problems that become harder to treat over time. Being exposed to large amounts of asbestos or being exposed for long periods of time may lead to various types of lung cancer, including mesothelioma.

Credit:

Asbestos May be Involved in Illegal Islip Dumping

Asbestos fears shut down school

Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.
Bayfield School, Herne Bay. Photo / Jason Dorday.

It’s hoped asbestos-contaminated demolition material that kept an Auckland primary school closed today will be cleared by Monday.

Bayfield Primary School’s 380 students stayed home today because of an asbestos risk from demolition work at the school’s biggest classroom block.

A multi-million dollar building project has been underway at the Herne Bay school, and their main classroom block, a leaky building, had been demolished over the school holidays.

Board of Trustees chairman David McPherson told parents and caregivers on Wednesday night that testing at the site had shown the possibility of asbestos and the school would be closed temporarily.

Head of education infrastructure service for the Ministry of Education Kim Shannon said testing today had shown no sign of asbestos outside the work site.

She said the Ministry was reassured by the results, however more tests will be carried out before the school is reopened.

Mr McPherson said the majority of the demolition work was carried out during the school holidays, and they had expected it to be finished before school resumed.

“Before the school reopened on Monday we sought a number of assurances from the project team that the site was safe and that they had complied with their removal obligations, we got those assurances and no reason to disbelieve them.”

Mr McPherson said he had been taking calls from concerned parents today.

“The questions that our parents have been asking us are the questions we are asking of the contractors and the Ministry,” he said.

“We’ve got to work through a whole lot of processes to get the right information to be able to get that to our parents.”

Work Safe NZ has given contractors the green light to remove the demolished material from the school, and Mr McPherson expected that to be completed tomorrow.

The school will be swabbed and air quality tests will be carried out to ensure no trace of asbestos is found before it is reopened.

He said he hoped students would be able to return to school on Monday, however plans were in motion for a alternative classrooms for the students if the school must remain closed longer.

“We’re not prepared to reopen the school until we’re totally satisfied,” he said.

The Ministry of Education will be investigating the management of the work site.

APNZ

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Asbestos fears shut down school