CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The discovery of asbestos at the Freedom Industry tank farm in Charleston was not a big surprise to Department of Environment Inspectors. The tanks were constructed in the 1940′s or 50′s and during those years use of asbestos in all construction was fairly common as a fire proof method of insulation.
“Our Division of Air Quality actually required an asbestos inspection prior to demolition,” said Kelly Gillenwater, Spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection. “Because there was a probability or possibility asbestos could be found.”
The material was located in several gaskets and flanges on moving parts of the tanks which sit along the banks of the Elk River. The remediation will extend the timeline for the deconstruction of the operation.
“They have to go in and remove all of the asbestos or potentially asbestos or potential asbestos material and dispose of that before they can start cutting into the tanks,” Gillenwater said.
The timeline on when the tanks will be completely removed from the site is unknown since the timeline for the removal is also unknown. Gillenwater said a whole new set of regulations and restrictions will now kick in on the site to insure the hazardous material is properly removed and disposed of.
“I really don’t have a good time frame on how long it will take,” she said. “It really will depend on the contractor and their man power and the process they use.”
She said it’s possible the contractor will remove the material from one tank and then dismantle it before moving to the next one. She says they contractor may chose to remove all asbestos on site before starting the demolition.