Asbestos Building Demolished by Experimental Method

Despite attempts by environmentalists and concerned citizens to stop the demolition, an asbestos-laden apartment building in Fort Worth, Texas was demolished on Monday, using a newly developed method that some believe is unsafe and causes asbestos fibers to be released into the air.

According to an article in the Star-Telegram, the demolition at the Oak Hollow apartments on the city’s east side was the first test of the new and improved “wet” method in a populated area. Previous tests have been performed at an old military base in Arkansas.

Only one building came down via the new method, explained an EPA spokesman. The remainder of the complex will be demolished using the old method, which involves removing all asbestos before demolition. With the new method, the walls and ceilings are saturated with special foam and the building is torn down without first removing the asbestos.

A spokesman for a national environmental group called the test “the height of irresponsibility,” but a City Council member defended it despite the protests of many residents who believed their neighborhood was chosen due to its large minority population.

“The tests have been done a couple of times before. If they didn’t feel, from those tests, it was safe to bring into a populated area, they wouldn’t be here,” said City Councilman Danny Scarth, whose district includes the building.

The demolition crews will also remove about 3 inches of dirt to catch any fibers that may have soaked into the ground. It would have taken a specially trained crew two days just to remove the asbestos under the old method, said EPA project manager Adele Cardenas Malott.

Terry Lynch, the health hazard administrator for the national asbestos workers union, said there’s no way to know whether any asbestos was released.

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