Remodeling releases asbestos on top floor of Grand County courthouse
February 3, 2009
Renovations in the old district courtroom of the county administration building uncovered asbestos last week.
Immediate testing of the asbestos confirmed on Monday that particulate levels of 75 structures per square millimeter on the third floor surpassed safe levels, exceeding limits in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We were quite shocked when we found this out,” said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran. “Immediately we took steps to deal with it.”
Information technology, accounting and water specialist employees who worked on the third floor promptly moved downstairs.
County officials learned the disturbance of 1937 plaster in the old courtroom at the outset of construction work on the third floor created the airborne asbestos particles.
Walls blocked employees’ third-floor offices from the construction zone, but a hole bored through allowed the dust to spread, Underbrink Curran said.
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Subsequent air monitoring and testing of the material confirmed air hazards on the third floor.
Air monitoring throughout the county building has confirmed the level exceeding air-quality health standards is isolated to the third floor.
Second floor air is safe, according to Scott Sanders of Sunrise Environmental Inc., Littleton, who is monitoring air-sampling pumps throughout the building.
Samples show second-floor levels at 15 structures per millimeter squared, he said.
The EPA considers levels above 70 unsafe.
Those results have been posted in the county building.
Employees who were located upstairs now share second-floor offices. In light of the asbestos scare, a few employees have filed worker’s compensation for health checks, according to Underbrink Curran.
As a precaution, driver’s license and recording workers on the second floor were relocated to office spaces down the hall due to possible dust exposure directly above.
Since then, air monitoring has confirmed that air quality standards are safe, but those employees will remain in their new locations due to construction slated in the near future.
Prior to demolitions for building renovations, the county had contracted with a company to perform analyses of possible hazardous materials in the building.
The company apparently overlooked third-floor hazards, Underbrink Curran informed county commissioners on Tuesday.
The manager has directed the county’s assistant attorney to review the contract to see what liability that company has for inaccurate analyses.
Meanwhile, a different company, Custom Environmental of Denver, is performing hazard abatement of the third floor and construction has stopped until further testing can be accomplished on all levels.
The third floor may be cleared by Friday, officials said.
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