We live in a world of government regulations, government agencies, and rules and procedures our elected officials have set down to follow in the renovation and demolition industry. Also, the “playing surface” has changed the last few years, but not really for developers, builders, or handymen regarding these governmental rules and regulations. It seems that every time you turn around there is a “new” inspector waiting to check out soils, weeds, or building products, and in renovation and demolition efforts…asbestos.
You would think that in large renovation and demolition projects that a phase 1 environmental survey would uncover all problem areas to be addressed. In reality a phase 1 environmental survey generally does not fulfill the requirement of having a licensed asbestos inspector complete an asbestos inspection report prior to commencing renovation or demolition (Builder beware!). There are rules regarding almost all phases, materials, and labor components of the renovation and demolition process. These rules are enforced by various federal, state, and municipal governmental agencies, but in the past have not been enforced 100% in every locale. Well, welcome to 2010, when government agencies including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is extending their reach into rural Minnesota to enforce these regulations. Failure to follow the requirements of these rules and regulations can result in huge potential fines for everyone involved in the renovation and demolition process. That means municipalities, land or building owners, developers, contractors, and sub contractors may be liable for potentially large fines. Because rules and regulations for pollutants are already described in federal and state requirements, everyone involved must immediately be sensitized to these requirements. They are there primarily so that we do not harm ourselves, our employees, sub contractors, or other people on the job site. Secondly, they are important so that we do not do damage to public health and the environment of the area we’re working in. These rules and regulations have big teeth associated with the penalties that the administrators, doing their job, will enforce.
If the structure you are working on is defined as a “facility” by Minn. R 7011.9920, which incorporates by reference the requirements of Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 61, subpart M., the following are examples of some of the requirements you must comply with:
• Have a licensed asbestos inspector complete a thorough asbestos inspection prior to the start of renovation or demolition
• Notify the MPCA 10 working days prior to the start of asbestos abatement Remove all regulated asbestos-containing materials (RACM) prior to renovation or demolition
• Adequately wet RACM and ensure that it remains adequately wet until it’s collected and contained
• Notify the MPCA 10 working days prior to the start of demolition
Again these rules were placed “By the people” to protect all of us from airborne carcinogenic fibers that have no known safe level of exposure. The MPCA can take samples for enforcement purposes if any suspect asbestos-containing material is found in a “facility” that is being renovated or demolished. Enforcement is only the last resort of the compliance process. So, save yourself time and money by being aware of and complying with the state and federal regulations.
Although some structures you are working on may not be defined as a “facility,” it may still have asbestos hidden in ceiling tile, floor tile, thermal system insulation, attic insulation, or even cement board. Although these structures are not regulated by 40 CFR, Part 61, subpart M, you should still take measures to protect yourself from airborne asbestos fibers.
Information on asbestos can be found on the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us or by writing to; MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N, St. Paul, MN 55155.