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"Free" soil costs more than half a million dollars to clean up

If you believed the asbestos industry, problems that may have existed from asbestos are long past. Sure, if you were a shipyard worker in California during the 1950s or 1960s, you may have been exposed to some asbestos and there may be a slight chance that you would have developed asbestos related illnesses some time after that.

However, since the asbestos has been removed from many consumer products, asbestos is your grandfather's disease, and only rarely does anyone contract a disease like asbestosis or mesothelioma, because most sources of asbestos have been eliminated.

Except that most of that is untrue. While you were more likely to develop asbestos-related disease while working in a California Shipyard many years ago, that does not mean that asbestos is a thing of the past. Sometimes, it is all too present.

In Louisiana recently, contractors obtained some free earth fill to use on a construction project. The "gift" soil came from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and was obtained from a canal being dug in the area.

The fill was being used to raise the elevation of a new building site, and the fact it was free allowed the project to proceed. Sadly, shortly after the 6,000 tons of soil was spread at the new site, it was discovered to contain asbestos.

It was quickly identified and control procedures were instituted to protect workers, but the remediation of the contaminated soil will cost the Parish $576,985 to clean up.

Confidence is not inspired by the fact that the testing of the contaminated soil did not provide any warning of the asbestos. 

And incidents like this, with accidental discoveries of asbestos, occur on practically a daily basis. Asbestos never goes away, and like a bad penny, too often, keeps coming back.

Source:, "Donated soil tainted with asbestos is a half-million dollar headache for Jefferson Parish," Adriane Quinlan, December 13, 2013

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