A building in the city of Wellston, Ohio, that was burned in a fire approximately six weeks ago is set to have asbestos removed as part of the cleanup process, the Jackson Times Journal reports.
According to the news source, the Kuppenheimer Building, which was referred to by many older local residents as the “pants factory” and by younger residents as the “chocolate factory,” was completely ravaged by the fire in March.
The destruction had significant consequences for the community, as the city had reportedly been marketing the building, which could have brought in a new business and potentially created jobs in the area.
Cleanup process gets underway
While the community is still shocked about the destruction caused by the massive fire, the city has begun taking steps to clean up the former building and ensure that it does not pose any health risks to local residents.
We have a contractor coming in to take out asbestos that was found in the structure,” city engineer Tim Wojdacz told the news source. “At the point the contractor is done taking the asbestos out, we will have the EPA come in again and re-test to make sure it is gone, and then continue cleanup.”
Wojdacz added that it would be much more expensive to dispose of asbestos-containing waste than it would be to simply rid the building of the carcinogen and have it hauled away, according to the news source.
Loose asbestos poses health risk
The removal of asbestos-containing materials is critical for local citizens as the deadly mineral fibers can become airborne when loosened during renovation or demolition projects. The inhalation of these fibers has been proven to cause a range of serious illnesses including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in the tissues surrounding a majority of the body’s internal organs.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 2,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma each year.
City plans to rehabilitate structure
While the destruction of the building and subsequent asbestos removal will undoubtedly prove costly, the city is already planning to refurbish the property to make it marketable to businesses once again, the news source said.
Wojdacz added that he is still planning to apply for Clean Ohio funding in order to bring the building back to life and attract new business, according to the Times Journal.