Developer responds to Ministry asbestos probe

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This was Canada’s oldest furniture factory when it was shuttered in 2009. Gibbard Furniture in Napanee is now being gutted for a future redevelopment — condominiums, townhouses and retail space. But the demolition of this wall during the early stages of the renovation work landed the developer in hot water with the Ministries of Labour and Environment.

“These blocks are what prompted the investigation. Inside the blocks is a product called vermiculite. It was used in the 1950′s, 1960′s and 1970′s as an insulator. It’s also known to have an asbestos element to it.”

“I’ll just show you, basically it’s just a granular, it isn’t asbestos in itself, but apparently it’s got some asbestos dust contained into it.”

Developer Hank Doornekamp sifts through the debris — while explaining what inspectors found. Although vermiculite is not a form of asbestos it is often contaminated with asbestos.

“Did we know that? No. Was I made aware of that? I was. Very quickly and at that time we basically shut down the site and involved an engineering firm to assess the situation.”

“The investigation will look at how the company managed the waste from the demolition site.
How it was managed at the site and ultimately disposed of it.”

The cinder blocks were taken to this quarry near Wilton — which Doornekamp planned to break up and reuse.

“We were shocked I think is a good word to describe it – that this kind of material might be dumped in our local quarry.”

After hearing news of the investigation a citizens group quickly formed in Wilton.  Area residents are concerned about contamination, including the nearby Wilton creek.

“That is a concern as well so we’re hoping that whatever is there is removed quickly and safely.”

The developer is meeting with the Ministry later this week with a “clean up plan”  They’ve hired a contractor who specialises in the removal and containment of hazardous materials…. while awaiting the outcome of the environmental investigation. Morganne Campbell CKWS Newswatch Napanee.

Original article: CKWS Newswatch

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