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Costly reminder of asbestos dangers

Release Date: 02/21/2007
Contact Information: John Pavitt, (907) 271-3688, Tony Brown, (206) 553-1203,

Salvation Army takes steps to abate asbestos and pays nearly $77,000 to EPA for Clean Air Act Violations

(Anchorage, Alaska – Feb. 21, 2007) An Anchorage Salvation Army thrift store has agreed to pay a $76,906 penalty to settle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for alleged violations of the asbestos National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (asbestos NESHAP) under the Clean Air Act.

In response to customer complaints, EPA conducted an inspection of a thrift store operated by the Salvation Army in Anchorage in September 2005, and found untrained workers removing over 7,500 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tile during business hours. EPA’s inspector determined the floor tile was in a deteriorated state and easily crumbled with hand pressure. The store had already disposed of much of the broken floor tile prior to the inspection. Samples collected by EPA’s inspector showed the floor tile contained asbestos.

Upon learning of the asbestos concern, the Salvation Army immediately closed the store, located on Northern Lights Boulevard, and kept it closed until an abatement company was able to clean up the remaining asbestos waste materials and dispose of them properly. The Salvation Army also disposed of its inventory rather than risk exposing the public further to asbestos fibers.

“Exposure to asbestos dust can have serious health consequences,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Director of Alaska Operations. “In this case, the Salvation Army was very responsive upon learning of the problem. This dangerous situation could have been avoided if the store had followed the Salvation Army’s established asbestos management program.”

EPA regulations require building owners and contractors to survey buildings prior to renovation or demolition projects and to submit advance notice to EPA. To protect public health and the environment, only trained workers may handle asbestos materials and must be supervised by a person familiar with the regulations. Workers must keep asbestos wet to prevent dust from leaving the work area and dispose of asbestos waste in designated landfills.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber, used extensively in building materials prior to the 1980’s due to its fire resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. EPA has regulated asbestos under the Clean Air Act since the early 1970’s.

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