Asbestos in Tennis Courts, Parking Lot Cause Concern
When the town of Longmeadow, Massachusetts decided to build a new $22 million Department of Public Works building, they had no idea they would be adding significantly more to their budget in order to abate the large amounts of asbestos that have been found at the site.
An article in The Republican notes that construction crews located asbestos in the coating material on the rubberized tennis courts on the property and also found an abundance of the mineral underneath the blacktop in the existing parking area.
Contractors seemed to think that the rubberized surface material from several of the nearby tennis courts had been ground up and placed around the building and covered by the asphalt parking lot.
In addition, said Town Manager Stephen Crane, large chunks of asbestos had been hidden in the fields around the property, which officials didn’t notice until after construction began.
The materials were likely disposed of illegally and could have been left there by previous tenants at the property. Nonetheless, it will all need to be cleaned up before any more construction can continue at the site. It’s estimated that clean-up will cost about a half-million dollars.
Tim Alix, spokesperson for Colliers International, the project manager, noted that contractors are working with the DEP to stockpile the hazardous material over the next couple weeks until a suitable disposal site can be found.
In the meantime, Crane stressed that there is no danger to the general public as long as they stay away from the site. The material is not currently airborne, and any stockpiles will be securely covered with plastic, he noted.
However, workers who may have encountered the hazardous material may or may not have been wearing protective gear at the time and could have potentially been exposed to small amounts of asbestos while on-the-job.
Asbestos was used in the surfaces of tennis courts in order to increase durability and longevity. In short, including asbestos in the materials used to coat a rubberized court meant that the court would last longer, therefore saving money on resurfacing.
This was standard practice on some kinds of courts up until the late 1970s. Luckily, it’s not a practice that created a huge hazard.
Nonetheless, when courts are damaged, some particles could become airborne, so maintenance crews should always be aware of these issues and immediately report the need for repairs.