Missoula Non-Compliant With Asbestos Laws

Montana officials have discovered that individuals in the city of Missoula (MT) are among the most non-compliant when it comes to obeying laws regarding asbestos and its proper handling.

According to an article in the Missoulian, out of 100 demolitions that occurred in the city during a three-year period, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was only informed about one of those demolitions.

“That tells me that Missoula was 99-percent non-compliant with one of our regulations,” said John Podolinsky, who works in the DEQ’s asbestos control office. “It also tells me, as a regulator, that those demolitions probably also failed to be inspected for asbestos.”
“You guys need a little more attention from us,” said Podolinsky. “You’d think as green as Missoula is, it’d be right up in compliance with our regulations. You’re not.”
Missoula contractors and building owners “fail miserably” when it comes to complying with a state law that requires notification of demolition and renovation plans, the article points out. However, the rest of Montana isn’t far behind. Statewide, Montana was 78 percent non-compliant with asbestos regulations at the turn of the 21st century.

Podolinsky says they are appealing to city officials for help in tackling this problem. Don Verrue and the Missoula building code office have agreed to attach a memo to building code permit applications reminding contractors, building owners and others about the requirement to notify DEQ when they’re tearing things down, he says.

According to the article, Verrue and Missoula are also in the process of assembling an ordinance that would require proof of an asbestos inspection before a demolition or renovation permit is issued. It must be reviewed by the city attorney and approved by the City Council, Podolinsky said. He hopes the requirement will become law by the end of 2007.

“There are over 3,000 materials that were made with asbestos at one time, and that’s what’s in our older homes,” said Verrue. “If there’s any way we can eliminate exposure of asbestos to prevent any related illnesses, boy, that’s the way we’re going to go.”

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