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Pillsbury Mills Site Still Contaminated After $1.8 Million Asbestos Abatement Project

Springfield’s State Journal-Register (SJR) has reported that a $1.8 million asbestos cleanup project has failed to rid a massive 18-acre plant of the deadly substance. Crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have removed more than 2,200 tons of asbestos-contaminated debris and 1,160 cubic yards of bulk asbestos from the site known as the Former Pillsbury Mills plant. A large amount of toxic chemicals and waste oil has been removed as well. However, “an undetermined amount” of asbestos still remains at the plant nine months after the project began. Earlier this year, it was estimated that the project would take just six months to complete.

Based on the asbestos that remains, a Sangamon County judge has refused to lift an injunction blocking owners from the mammoth site. Still, environmental regulators claim that the remaining asbestos is not a public-health hazard, so long as the materials are not disturbed. However, according to project coordinator Kevin Turner, conditions were “too dangerous” for workers in some badly deteriorated buildings. “In terms of scrapping operations or going in there,” he said, “absolutely it’s a hazard.”

Past statements about the state of the plant suggest that it is a hazard to more than just the workers. “Now that federal cleanup crews have moved on,” explained Springfield Fire Marshal Chris Richmond, “city and state officials are working to secure the site.” Fences have been repaired and asbestos caution signs have been updated. City and state officials will continue to monitor the property.

“We know the site has a significant past history of, other than the ownership, of folks in the community breaking into or trespassing in that facility for a variety of purposes,” said Richmond. “In some cases, it’s been young folks, juveniles, curious about an old factory complex.” Prior to the beginning of the project, neighbors had been complaining for years about trespassing and illegal salvaging.

The former Pillsbury Mills Plant has remained abandoned since it closed in 2001. In order for it to be reused or demolished, the remaining asbestos would have to be abated. No news yet as to whether this will ever happen.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, please see your doctor right away. Exposure to asbestos could lead to an aggressive form of cancer known as mesothelioma. Although there is no cure for the disease, early detection may lead to better outcomes.

 

Sources

Landis, Tim. "Asbestos Remains at Pillsbury Site after $1.8 Million Cleanup." The State Journal. The State Journal-Register, 15 Nov. 2017. Web. 26 Dec. 2017.