We recently attended 2 different site visits where they were conducting major renovations on homes built before 1991 and the renovator and/or homeowner were not aware of asbestos protocols.
We were surprised to attend a site visit where 2 very large bins were full of asbestos containing drywall. This is tons of drywall sitting out in the open and of course the disposal company could not take away these bins. No landfill will take building materials without a certificate showing it does not contain asbestos. A test concluded that it did indeed contain asbestos. This will now become more expensive than if they had followed the proper protocols from the beginning. They are now paying for daily bin rental and if it rains the drywall will become much heavier and the cost for disposal will be very expensive at $360/ ton.
In order to dispose of this drywall now it will all have to be removed from the bin and placed into 6ml poly bags. Wearing mask and protection gear workers will break up the drywall. This will be a time-consuming job. The bin and the work areas around the bin will have to be vacuumed and washed.
Then comes the house. Containment will be built around the areas of where the drywall was taken out, as well as the areas where they want more drywall to be removed. The house and all its contents will need to be vacuumed under negative air with tested hepa vacuums and completely washed down as everything in the home is considered to be contaminated.
Not to forget the most important part: the workers who pulled all this drywall have been inhaling asbestos which embeds deep in your lungs. This job will now cost more than if they had hired a qualified abatement company from the start.
The second job site was the lifting of a home. The majority of the work had been completed to prep for the lifting of this home. The house was gutted. We had been called in at this point due to the fact that they could not get a permit to lift without a hazardous materials survey. This step should have been done prior to any renovations. The remaining drywall compound was tested and indicated it was positive for asbestos.
At the site visit we also noticed vermiculite insulation bits on the grounds around the home and the attic still had traces of vermiculite insulation in it. This vermiculite insulation tested positive for asbestos as well. The house will have to be wrapped, vacuumed and washed down and all the grounds will probably need to be dealt with as it is considered contaminated. Further investigation will have to be conducted to confirm if this is just on the surface, if it was raked in, or worse buried. They may end up having a backhoe remove all the soil around the home deemed as hazardous material. This clean-up may now cost tens of thousands of dollars. As much as four times more than it would have if professionals were called in from the start.
We felt sorry for the homeowners and tried to break this news to them gently. The contractor has cost them a lot of money and grief. We are often not the bearers of good news. We did not ask who their contractor was but strongly suggested to them that they discontinue using his services. In both of these situations it is quite likely that WorkSafe will be involved and fines may be issued.
At this home we could not help but notice a baby playing next door on their deck. Sadly, the asbestos containing vermiculite’s loose microscopic fibres would have become airborne at the time of removal.