Initial tests: Asbestos was confined to school lobby |

Initial tests: Asbestos was confined to school lobby

Janet Urquhart

Aspen officials will meet with a state health official and a pair of consultants today to map out a plan to clean up asbestos in the Yellow Brick School.

Initial test results from samples collected in the building late last week appear to indicate the spread of asbestos to the main floor is limited to the carpeting near the front lobby, according to Lee Cassin, the city’s environmental health director.

Cassin expects to receive a full, written report on the test results today before experts convene to devise a cleanup plan.

The former school, which now houses several preschool programs and a couple of offices, was closed last week for the scheduled removal of an old, asbestos-encased boiler and duct work. When the crew arrived last Monday, however, they discovered a section of asbestos-covered pipe had already been removed. Asbestos insulation was lying on the floor in the basement.

Asbestos fibers, which can cause health problems if inhaled, had been tracked elsewhere in the building, initial carpet samples indicated.

A consultant was back in the North Garmisch Street building Thursday and Friday to collect some 30 additional air and carpet samples, according to Cassin.

Complete results from the analysis of those samples should be available today, she said.

“We can’t just go in there and start cleaning,” Cassin said. “We have to know exactly where and how.”

Certified specialists will handle the cleanup, she said.

Curtis Burns, environmental protection specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will meet with city staffers and representatives from two asbestos consulting firms today. The city has hired its own consultant, and the prime contractor on the heating work at the school, Performance Technologies of Evergreen, has hired a consultant, as well.

The asbestos contamination apparently occurred during the basement remodeling of the Yellow Brick this summer. The project included installation of a new boiler and duct work. The scheduled removal of asbestos from the old boiler, which was supposed to take place last week, was halted when workmen discovered the loose asbestos.

The building was sealed off, and preschool programs, which were to resume today in the school, have all been moved to temporary locations elsewhere until the cleanup is complete.

Performance Technologies was interviewing its various subcontractors on Friday in an attempt to pin down the party responsible for the contamination, according to Ed Sadler, the city’s asset manager.

The city, too, is anxious to find out who is to blame so that entity can be billed for the cost of cleaning up the mess, Sadler said.

“As far as I’m concerned, it should be the people responsible for its release. If the city is partly responsible, then the city should pay part of the cost, but I don’t believe that’s the case,” he said. “Right now, I think it’s a subcontractor or a series of subcontractors.”

The city doesn’t want to delay cleanup of the building, however, while the investigation into the cause of the contamination is under way, Sadler said.

The basement carpeting, where initial sampling showed asbestos was tracked, is brand new. The carpeting on the main floor, in the lobby area and hallway, is less than a year old.

The cleanup may involve a steam cleaning of the carpet rather than its removal, Burns said last week.

The removal of the asbestos from the boiler room still needs to occur, followed by the dismantling of the old boiler.

A proposal to rezone the school to accommodate offices for nonprofit groups and the city on the remodeled lower floor is expected to go to the City Council late this month, Sadler said.

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