“Horsefeathers!” I barked, in response to John Feary's assertion that, “Asbestos was not commonly used in that era”. The topic of discussion was the old First Bank building, the City's intent to purchase the building, my concerns that there may be asbestos in the building and the cost of removal which would be excessive (“up to a quarter million dollars for a building that size”), according to a real estate professional I had consulted with. That was last year, the summer of 2013.
While I protested that the initial inspection intended to detect asbestos was inadequate, the City of Owasso ordered a second, “Limited Asbestos Survey”, delivered to the City in August, 2013. I protested the reliability of that second inspection, since it failed to focus on my two areas of primary concern, the plumbing and the air ducts for the heating and cooling system.
On August 20, 2013, on the recommendation of City Staff and following Warren Lehr's declaration that a second inspection of the First Bank building had been completed and “reflects no presence of asbestos”, the City Council voted 3-2 to approve the City's purchase of the old First Bank building.
At the City Council meeting on June 6, 2014, on Page 8 of the Claims List, the City Council approved payment to Blackshare Environmental Solutions for more TESTING at a cost of $750.00 and an additional $800 to Asbestos Handlers, Inc. for ASBESTOS REMOVAL. What did Blackshare find in their testing that the two previous inspections failed to discover?
Finally, in the September 11, 2014 issue of the Owasso Reporter, on Page 28, a discussion of the First Bank building's renovation presents the need for an additional $900,000 not included in earlier estimates. Included in this $900,000 is $251,000 to replace the duct work for the heating and cooling system, since the ducts are lined with a fiber coating that is breaking down, the dust particles being blown out of the vents. “It's a health thing, it's a safety thing”, says John Feary.
A fiber coating – breaking down and going airborne in particles – these are known characteristics of ASBESTOS, which breaks down and disintegrates as it ages – asbestos, a known carcinogen, is indeed a serious health issue.
I expressed my concerns that the air ducts and plumbing were not being adequately inspected for asbestos, since it was widely used in those areas prior to 1980. John Feary and others defended the two initial inspecting companies as “competent, qualified professionals”, yet a year after their inspections revealed no asbestos in the old First Bank building, City Hall wants another quarter million of our tax dollars to remove and replace the air ducts lined with ASBESTOS.
Patrick D. Ross
Former Owasso City Councilor