Workers finish covering asbestos behind old mill, DEQ says

Workers cut down trees and shrubs then installed a plastic liner, soil and a fiber mat cover on this slope near the former Carolina Asbestos plant in Davidson. Last fall, environmental officials found asbestos running off from the hill. (David Boraks/ WFAE)
Workers cut down trees and shrubs then installed a plastic liner, soil and a fiber mat cover on this slope near the former Carolina Asbestos plant in Davidson. Last fall, environmental officials found asbestos running off from the hill. (David Boraks/ WFAE)

An update on that Davidson asbestos site I’ve been following for WFAE:  Contractors have finished installing a plastic liner, fresh earth and a fiber mat over an asbestos site at the Metrolina Warehouse at 301 Depot St. Last fall, runoff was discovered flowing from a slope behind the old mill, off Sloan Street in Davidson.

The state DEQ said Friday, Feb. 3, that work on the slope behind the former Carolina Asbestos plant took three days. The project was overseen by the DEQ and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The slope had been covered with trees and other vegetation. This photo was taken in early January. (David Boraks/WFAE)
The slope had been covered with trees and other vegetation. This photo was taken in early January. (David Boraks/WFAE)

The DEQ said air monitors around the site and on workers detected no airborne asbestos during the work.

The property manager for Metrolina Warehouse LLC is required to keep an eye on the site for future signs of asbestos, according to the DEQ.

The work began on Monday. Workers removed trees and bushes, then filled holes on the slope with concrete. A six-inch layer of fresh topsoil was added, then grass seed and fertilizer. Finally, a coconut fiber mat was put on top, to hold the soil in place while the grass grows.

The workers also built a soil berm around the area to direct rain away from the slope. And a green “filter sock” was installed at the bottom of the slope to catch runoff.

“We’re confident the landscaping work completed on the site this week will prevent future exposure to asbestos,” said Michael Scott, director of the DEQ’s Division of Waste Management, which oversaw the work. “But the state and the property manager will continue to monitor the site and ensure repairs can be made quickly if any problems arise.”   

Runoff at the site was found last fall. Environmental officials think heavy rain and/or burrowing animals eroded the slope, unearthing asbestos buried there decades ago when the factory made shingles, fabric and other asbestos products. The runoff flowed onto two residential streets.

Charlotte developers are considering tearing down the old mill and building a 183-unit apartment building on the site.  But first, they’ll need a “brownfields agreement” with state officials, which spells how how the site would be permanently cleaned up. The developer then would be able to determine the cost of a cleanup, and whether the redevelopment project is financially feasible.

Meanwhile, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is still working on separate plans to clean up asbestos found in the yards of homes near the old factory.

RELATED LINKS

Feb. 3, 2017, NC DEQ press release, “State: work completed successfully to address asbestos at property in Davidson”

Jan. 25, 2017, WFAE.org, “Work To Begin At Davidson Asbestos Site; EPA Cleanups Still On Track”

Jan. 18, 2017, WFAE.org, “Davidson Mill Redevelopment Unearths Asbestos, Old Tensions”

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