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County employees concerned about asbestos work

Sun, Oct 29th, 2000
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By John TorgrimsonMonday, October 30, 2000

Vern Johnson of Kane & Johnson Architects of Rochester held a meeting with Fillmore County employees on Thursday morning to address some of the concerns employees had over the asbestos removal work that is taking place at the courthouse.

ASI/LVI Environmental Services of St. Paul is removing asbestos associated with the building of an elevator in the courthouse. The firm is licensed for asbestos removal by the State of Minnesota Department of Health. The project started on October 23.

Some employees have complained about air quality since the project started and wonder if the courthouse is safe for county staff and clients. One county employee, who requested that her name not be used, said that some of the employees have noticed their allergies acting up; others have complained of burning eyes. She also said that asbestos had to be stored in an office area because a special dumpster hadn’t arrived.

According to Fillmore County Policy Coordinator Karen Brown, Johnson told staff that the air samples taken during the bagging process have shown that no asbestos fibers have escaped. Johnson told the group that ASI/LVI has fifteen years experience and the removal has been done by state standards.

Another county employee, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said that the meeting was mainly about meeting safety standards and did little to alleviate employee concerns. She said that the meeting in fact raised more questions than it answered, mainly over past practices.
“What kind of safety precautions were taken when holes were drilled in tiles for telephone and computer cable ducts a few years ago? she asked. “There was plenty of dust. Who was monitoring asbestos then?”

Brown admits that many employees are concerned about the project regardless of Johnson’s assurances that the asbestos is being removed properly.

While the project is scheduled to be completed by November 3, in the minds of some county workers the asbestos removal project raises long-term concerns about air quality in the building and the general safety of employees and citizens

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