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Demolition at Ketchikan’s Best Western Landing Hotel Leads to Asbestos Complaint

Release Date: 10/13/2005
Contact Information: John Pavitt
(907) 271-3688

October 13, 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has filed a complaint for asbestos violations against Kay D. Sims and Terral F. Wanzer, owners of the Best Western Landing Hotel, and Bicknell, Inc., a demolition contractor. The violations occurred during the demolition of two buildings at the Best Western Landing Hotel complex in Ketchikan, Alaska in January 2005. The complaint seeks $79,555 in civil penalties for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Federal regulations require a thorough inspection of a facility for the presence of asbestos prior to any demolition activity, as well as advanced notice to EPA. If a significant amount of asbestos is found, certified asbestos abatement contractors are required to dispose of the material following specific requirements designed to protect public health. These requirements include using water to wet the asbestos during removal and proper disposal of the asbestos waste.

The complaint alleges that the parties did not notify EPA of the demolition, did not remove all of the asbestos before the demolition, and did not use water to wet all of the asbestos during the demolition. In addition, some of the asbestos debris from the demolition project was mixed with general demolition debris and disposed of improperly.

”This is the second demolition leading to asbestos violations in Alaska in the past year,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Director of Alaska Operations. “Hopefully, people are getting the message. When you tear down a structure follow the regulations and you will be protecting the health of the community.”

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber which was used in building materials prior to the 1980’s due to its fire resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to numerous related diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. Owners and operators of a demolition activity are legall required to remove, handle and dispose of asbestos according to federal regulation.

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