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NC VA hospital slow to remove asbestos

According to workers at a VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, asbestos contamination in the subbasement has resulted in contradictory series of moves regarding the presence of asbestos and when, or if, it has been abated.

Workers had long suspected that asbestos was a problem at the hospital. The VA hired a contractor in 2012 to look at the asbestos, and they found "major problems with asbestos in the subbasement, including "damaged pipe insulation and debris on the ground."

An asbestos expert contacted by local news reporters noted conditions in the subbasement were among the "most egregious he has ever seen," after examining the findings of their news report.

An OSHA investigation of the problem was closed without any actual inspections by OSHA apparently based on information provided by the VA management.

And the manager who was responsible for mechanical operations at the hospital claims after he reported the continuing problems with asbestos within the building his career took a "nosedive."

The asbestos had been used as pipe insulation when the hospital was build in 1967, and over the years, it has deteriorated. Workers have become concerned that the location of the pipes has allowed dust to be drawn into the hospital's air conditioning system and blown throughout the building.

Because many structures were built in the last century, where asbestos was commonly used as pipe and duct insulation, issues like these pose a potential risk in building nationwide, including California. As those buildings age, the material that contains asbestos can deteriorate and become "friable," which may allow it to become airborne.

Next week, we will look at the contradictory statements from the VA concerning the cleanup of the asbestos at the hospital., "Part 1: Asbestos at VA Medical Center ," September 18, 2014

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