Asbestos Dust-Ups Due To Lack of Oversight

In virtually every city across the U.S. at least one building constructed prior to the 1980s is being remodeled or demolished at any given time. And as readers of know, all too often the people involved in these projects attempt to cut corners where asbestos is concerned, usually costing them more in the long run. So when a Savannah TV station discovered that no one in the city had been charged under the Asbestos Safety Act since 2005, it should have been cause for celebration and admiration, right? Not exactly. As WSAV explained: ” Everyone could be obeying the law but the State of Georgia doesn’t know because they don’t do regular inspections anymore.” The situation came to light when Pat Strickland, a local resident, reported that the contractors demolishing an old restaurant near her home had no official permit to do so. It took several phone calls before the City of Savannah finally issued an order to stop work on grounds that no permit for the project had been issued. The contractors were fined $200, but despite residents’ complaints and some “hard words” from a city official , the demolition project was again in full swing three days later.

Strickland remained concerned, however, because the construction company had failed to notify the state 10 days prior to beginning demolition. As with most states, Georgia requires this advanced notice in part to allow for the removal of asbestos prior to demolition. Calls to the head of the State of Georgia’s Lead-Based Paint and Asbestos Program, Robert M. Gwin, resulted in an inspector being sent to the site. The inspector’s report was expected to result in recommendations of further fines. Work resumed at the site after the inspector’s visit –producing great clouds of dust. Was the dust being released during the demolition contaminated by asbestos? No one can say for certain. Gwin says the contractor did file an asbestos notification in October, but given the lack of regular inspections, he could not assure the WSAV reporter that the asbestos was actually removed prior to the heavy machinery moving in last month. One positive outcome may result, however. Savannah’s City Citizen Office Director, Susan Broker, says changes to local ordinances are being considered. “Do we need to… determine if there is another level of scrutiny that needs to be put into place? Absolutely