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Sun., March 20, 2011

Jail could release bad agents

In 1974 now-bankrupt WR Grace abandoned its asbestos-contaminated Zonolite production plant at 1318 N. Maple in Spokane. Now – as part of its controversial new jail project – current site owner Spokane County wants to unearth the cancer-causing asbestos to build Sheriff Knezovich a new garage and other structures.

Per EPA and Washington Department of Health, contaminated soils from the so-called Wilbert Vault site and neighborhood yards represent serious health risks to workers and residents. Microscopic asbestos fibers exposed by excavation and other building activities are spread by winds. EPA testing in 2004 and 2009 found significant levels of dangerous asbestos on and off the site.

Libby amphibole (LA) asbestos is a proven cause of deadly mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. In 2007 the county paved over part of the location as Phase 1 of a settlement to prevent further asbestos from blowing all over the area. In the process of paving, the county and its contractor failed to properly contain the asbestos, resulting in complaints by SCAPCA to Labor and Industries over health dangers to workers. After 60-plus years of exposure to Libby, Mont., asbestos at this site, the community should be spared the costs and risks of this jail-related project.

David A. Brookbank Jr.


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