Asbestos may be removed quickly

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 17, 2002

More than half of the roof on the Western Grocer Building contains friable asbestos, according to the county. Though detailed estimates have not arrived, county administration anticipates the removal cost will be below the amount that requires a public bidding, which would slow down the county’s effort to demolish the building.

In addition to the east half of the building, the asbestos was detected in roofing materials in the transportation unit. The total area of the contamination is more than 10,000 square-feet.

The biggest concern for the county is whether the removal cost exceeds $50,000 or not. Any contract exceeding that price needs to be made through public bidding after a three-week notification period and 10 additional days. The bids need to be scrutinized, and then be approved during a county board meeting. The total process usually takes six weeks, according to Maintenance Manager Randy Jensen.

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County Administrator Ron Gabrielsen expects the cost could be compressed below the $50,000 limit if the projects were divided into three segments.

According to Jensen, there are only limited numbers of contractors that are licensed to handle asbestos and none of them are in the county. And the county considers a contract without bidding would not impose a threat to fairness or equal opportunity.

The county will urge the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to issue a removal permit. A part of the roof fell down to the ground, which may enable the county to get the permit earlier than the normal waiting period of 10 working days, Gabrielsen said. He anticipates the demolition will be completed without delay.