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EPA Takes Action to Stop Spread of Asbestos at Liberty Plant Maintenance Site in Lockport, N.Y.

Release Date: 09/13/2012
Contact Information: Michael Basile (716) 551-4410; basile.michael@epa.gov

(New York. N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has conducted emergency work to stop the spread of asbestos at the Liberty Plant Maintenance Inc. facility in Lockport, New York. The EPA took samples of soil to determine if asbestos from a badly deteriorating boiler house on the site has spread into the surrounding area. The EPA is awaiting results of the sampling and will use that information to determine the appropriate next steps in the cleanup. Asbestos is known to cause a form of lung cancer, especially when inhaled over long periods of time.

“The EPA’s first priority is protecting people’s health,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The EPA immediately restricted access to asbestos contaminated areas of the facility and is taking steps to stop the spread of asbestos into the community.”

The site is approximately1.5 acres and contains a 13,000 square foot former boiler house. This three-story masonry structure is falling apart and the asbestos within the building has deteriorated to a point at which it can easily be spread to various areas of the site. The current owner purchased the site in September 2010 and began to dismantle parts of the structure, which further disturbed contaminated areas of the building and is believed to have contributed to the spread of asbestos. Approximately 40 residences and a school building are located within 600 feet of the site. The New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have overseen work at the site since 2010 and requested EPA involvement in March 2012.

The EPA conducted an initial assessment in spring 2012 and immediately began negotiating with the property owner to either restrict access to the site or consent to allow EPA to do so. The EPA obtained legal access to the property on August 23, 2012 and began securing the site on August 27. Due to the threat posed by the asbestos and evidence that people were trespassing on the site, the EPA restricted access by installing a fence around the asbestos contaminated areas of the site. Areas of the building have been sprayed with a substance that hardens and traps the asbestos fibers in place. The EPA has also decontaminated a parking area, collected some sediment and soil from the parking area and placed it inside the boiler house. The building was examined by a structural engineer on September 6, 2012 to determine whether it is safe to allow workers to go inside the boiler house to clean up the asbestos.

Throughout the EPA’s work, the community will be kept informed and any member of the public that has questions or concerns may contact the EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator, Michael Basile at 716-551-4410.

For more information about asbestos, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/eparegion2 and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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