Following concerns raised in July by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the safety of the beach at Illinois Beach State Park near Zion, a new round of testing began on Wednesday to determine the levels of asbestos there.
NBC5 Chicago reports that over the next eight days, EPA officials will try to mimic a typical day at the beach, participating in activities such as volleyball, Frisbee, and of course sunbathing. What they hope to determine is just how human activity can stir up asbestos fibers from the large pieces found on the beach.
According to NBC5, officials say they are trying to prove their hypothesis that the beach is safe.
“We are trying to look and assess is there any danger out here for the public,” said Richard Karl, who is with the EPA.
Why wasn’t that done last time, asked NBC5 political editor Carol Marin.
“That I don’t know,” he said.
“Every time they test the air, they find asbestos,” said Jeff Camplin, an asbestos professional who has battled with state and federal authorities over how safe the beach is.
“We have enough data to close down the beaches.”
Residents and environmental activists say the problem at the beach is two-fold: some asbestos is already buried in the sand and additional pieces are washing up on shore. Beach officials must keep tabs on both.
The story points out that despite a recommendation by an attorney general’s task force that three beach sweeps occur each week, the State Department of Natural Resources was only doing one. After the media picked up the story, the state finally upped that to three beach sweeps a week during summer months.