Silt not insulated from asbestos problems

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is investigating whether a house in Silt with asbestos siding was improperly demolished.

“We knew it had asbestos,” said Glenn Ault, a partner in ARCC Partnership LLC that owns the house at 11 S. 7th St. “So did the contractor. I watched them take the asbestos away in bags.”

The Department of Public Health received a complaint from a Silt resident about the demolition project on Jan. 9, and dispatched an investigator the following day, said department spokesman Christopher Dann.

At issue is whether the demolition contractor knew of the asbestos, and whether the asbestos was disposed of properly. Dann declined to comment on the allegations contained in the complaint but expects the investigation to be completed early next week.

Dann said the property owner and contractor are responsible for reporting and removing asbestos when it is found in buildings before demolition or remodeling projects.

He said asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can cause cancer when inhaled into the lungs. Until 20 years ago, asbestos was used to insulate pipes in homes and buildings, and in ceiling and floor tiles. It was also used to texture walls and in exterior siding.

Ault said the asbestos in question was a siding material. He said his contractor placed the siding in double-strength trash bags and hauled it away.

The state investigator interviewed Ault and Silt officials, and told both to clean up the site. Ault said his contractor removed soil, following the investigator’s instructions.

“It wasn’t a substantial amount,” Ault said.

Silt town administrator Rick Aluise said town workers swept asbestos particles from the street.

“It’s resolved from our standpoint,” Aluise said.

Ault said the town asked him to tear down the house, which was leaning and built without a foundation. He said his contractor took out a Silt demolition permit before proceeding.

Dann downplayed concerns the asbestos that escaped from the demolition site poses a health hazard.

“Most of the health impacts are from long-term exposure,” Dann said.

Asbestos isn’t a health risk unless it is disturbed and becomes airborne, Dann said.

“People walk into buildings where there is asbestos every day,” Dann said.

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