FW Asbestos Removal Method Protested
12:14 AM CST on Tuesday, December 11, 2007
by Jeff Mosier / The Dallas Morning News
FORT WORTH – The city might endanger the health of nearby residents if it allows an experimental asbestos abatement test to continue this week, opponents said at a press conference Monday.
A handful of opponents and a couple of supporters of the test appeared in front of the closed Oak Hollow Appartments in East Fort Worth.
The city intends to demolish a small portion of the complex Thursday using a modified version of the wet method or Fort Worth method. Federal Law requires that asbestos-containing materials be removed from a building before it is demolished in most cases. But this alternative method allows contractors to wet the structure with a foaming agent and then tear it down without removing all the asbestos.
Document: Read an EPA contractor’s report on the asbestos abatement method being tested in Fort Worth
“There is no doubt that asbestos will be released into the community,” said Scott Frost, a lawyer working with Public Justice.
Brian Boerner, Fort Worth’s environmental management director, said the peer review study and the data from a second test on the Fort Worth Method this year were promising. He said it was possible the updated Fort Worth method could be safer than the standard method.
“When you read the peer review in its totality, it is encouraging,” Mr. Boerner said.
Public Justice, formerly Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, organized the protest and has lobbied the city and Environmental Protection Agency to halt the testing in populated areas.
The federal government has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos, which can cause cancer and other lung diseases.
An EP letter circulated to nearby residents said that the Fort Worth method has shown promise and “good control of asbestos.” It also said that this is not the same as the wet method and contains more “protective requirements.”
Public Justice officials pointed to a peer review study of a wet method test at the shuttered Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. The testing found no substantial difference between the air quality using the wet method and the traditional method, but some reviewers said that the safety of the wet method was inconclusive.
The city of Fort Worth tried to use a previous version of this method to demolish the Cowtown Inn. Instead, they tore down the vacant motel in 2005 using the traditional method after protests by environmental and community activists.
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