The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to stop the potential spread of asbestos at the former Arkell and Smiths Sack Co. facility in Canajoharie, N.Y. Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma.
“At the request of the local government, the EPA sent staff and federal resources to stop the potential release of asbestos,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck in an EPA press release. “EPA will make sure that the buildings are taken down properly and that asbestos is not spread into the community.”
The EPA took building and debris samples from the site in February 2016 after originally being notified by Mayor Francis Avery of Canajoharie in November 2015 about hazardous conditions posed by the dilapidated and collapsing buildings at the complex. It was determined that the asbestos from deteriorating structures on the site has the potential to impact the surrounding area, as asbestos within the building has deteriorated to a point that it could spread beyond the property. Homes are located within 30 feet of the site.
Going forward, the EPA will demolish the buildings, and asbestos-containing materials will be either removed or secured at the site and disposed of properly at permitted facilities. The air will also be monitored during operations to ensure that asbestos is not spreading.
While this site is not on the Superfund National Priorities List, the Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA will seek to hold any liable parties accountable for the costs of the investigation and cleanup.
The original factory, which was built in the 1860s, sits on a 2.6 acre site and contains seven interconnected buildings covering 65,000 square feet. The property was sold in 2007 before eventually falling into disrepair.
The EPA is coordinating with the Village of Canajoharie and local police to minimize disruptions during its cleanup work.
Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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