Asbestos in Western Grocery building leads to MPCA study

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2002

Asbestos detected in roofing materials on the Western Grocery Building requires an examination by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and, depending on the result, the county may have to go through another public bidding process for removing it that may take weeks.

In a pre-demolition meeting Friday, demolition consultant John Rall of BKV said if the project cost exceeded $50,000, the county would have to take a public bid. And the whole process to choose a contractor may take up to six weeks.

David Spinler of Spinler Construction in Austin, who is in charge of the demolition, said he would need to adjust the project timeline he was originally designed to start on May 20.

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Besides the roof, the asbestos has so far been detected in boiler insulation in the basement, in floor mastic and transite on the main floor, and in the linoleum floor in bathrooms, according to the county’s survey.

Rall said the MPCA would conduct a comprehensive survey, checking on the scope of asbestos use and its type.

The agency requires a special removal procedure if the asbestos is contained in an area more than 160 square feet in size. And if the material is friable, the type that crumbles easily and is more likely to release the pollutant into the air, only licensed contractors can handle the project.

The environmental study conducted when the county was considering a purchase of the property found asbestos in some floor materials but overlooked the roof, according to County Maintenance Manager Randy Jensen.

County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen said that investigators from the MPCA would visit the site to take samples for examining next week. Meanwhile, the demolition contractor can start cleaning, taking bolts out and putting signs up around the site, he said.

The county originally anticipated the demolition would be finished by the end of August, so that it can conduct a necessary underground contamination survey before the construction of a new judicial center in October.