As the result of asbestos removal at an old garage across the street, a church and school in the remote desert town of Needles, California has been contaminated with chrysotile asbestos, say church officials, who are asking the perpetrators to pay for the clean-up.
Members of the church had feared that contamination due to asbestos work contamination might happen when they heard of it being done at the old Ford Garage across the street from the Needles’ Assembly of God Church.
So, they closed their school and church that day, just to be safe.
Pastor Thomas Lamb says the work at the garage involved removing asbestos insulation and tar paper from around an abundance of steel pipes at the facility.
He had hoped workers there were taking the proper precautions. But air quality tests performed inside the church, conducted by an environmental consulting firm after the work at the garage was complete, revealed contamination from airborne chrysotile asbestos at 358,000 structures per square centimeter.
Significant contamination is quoted to be 100,000 structures per square centimeter, points out an article in the Needles Desert Star.
For now, Lamb’s congregation is meeting elsewhere until the problem is solved, but the minister is demanding that an investigation be made and reparations received.
He’s sent letters to the city manager and all regulatory agencies that issued permits for the work. The church has also contacted the company who transported the waste from the garage to a landfill in Azusa, California.
Obviously, Lamb believes, something went wrong along the way and he’s hoping to get some answers.
Regulators who’ve been contacted by Lamb and church officials include the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District. Bret Banks, of that agency’s compliance section, who is also executive director of the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District, acknowledged that they are aware of the situation at the church and are consulting with the California Air Resources Board about how to proceed.
“Some of the things we’re trying to put together,” Banks said, “are working with the state to try to determine what the next steps are to investigate the facility across the street. Is there any increased exposure to residents as a result of the activity that happened there?”
“The first thing we’re trying to determine is where the material came from. Is there a potential for continued contamination?”
That, of course, is what congregation members fear. They’re adamant that the clean-up be thorough and that they can be one-hundred percent certain that returning to their beloved house of worship is safe.
Even though they believed they had taken all the precautions to avoid contamination, it happened anyway, and now they must wait until local government finds a solution.