In January, plans to demolish the old terminal at Barnstable Municipal Airport on Cape Cod had to be put on hold after the crew found what they suspected was an asbestos contamination during demolition preparation. Asbestos had previously been discovered in the 50-year-old air traffic control tower back in November, prompting airport officials to ask the town council for $365,000 from the airport’s reserves for asbestos abatement services. This latest discovery could add another $200,000 to the airport’s total asbestos removal tab. According to Airport Manager Roland “Bud” Breault, the funds “should be 100 percent reimbursable through a grant from the FAA.”
A 2005 inspection apparently missed the asbestos contamination in the older buildings. Town Manager Tom Lynch said the city was “aggressively searching all records to find the answer as to why these additional suspect materials were not originally identified and subsequently included in the construction cost.” In both the tower and the terminal, asbestos was around the foundation, building joints and steel beams. The airport’s new terminal and tower have been open since mid-December.
However, the airport’s asbestos problems did not end there. In February, asbestos removal efforts sparked a fire at the old air traffic control tower. The fire reportedly began as a worker cut vertical lines into metal walls in order to remove potentially contaminated caulk. The torch set off a fire on the tar and gravel-covered roof, and several layers of fiberboard also ignited. Fortunately, firefighters did not have to work in asbestos-contaminated areas, according to Hyannis Deputy Fire Chief Dean Melanson. Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can lead to the development of mesothelioma and other serious diseases.
Finding asbestos in older buildings is not uncommon. Known for its heat-resistant and fire-retardant properties, asbestos was once widely used in the construction industry. As concerns mounted about its toxicity, the government took action to severely restrict its use. Yet asbestos continues to linger in many older buildings, in wall and ceiling insulation, floor and ceiling tiles, roof and siding shingles, caulking and cement, building joints, and pipe insulation.
Asbestos causes serious health conditions including mesothelioma, lung cancer, throat cancer and asbestosis. An estimated 10,000 Americans die from asbestos-related diseases each year. It is important that construction and demolition workers take proper precautions when working in older buildings to protect themselves from possible asbestos exposure. Homeowners should also be careful not to disturb asbestos when completing home improvement projects, as releasing asbestos fibers into the air can lead to the inhalation of toxic particles. A qualified asbestos abatement specialist should handle asbestos removal.
If you suffer from an asbestos-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced asbestos attorney or mesothelioma lawyer today to learn about your legal rights. An asbestos lawyer or mesothelioma attorney will review your case to determine if any party acted negligently in exposing you to asbestos, and then fight for the justice you deserve.