Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Jed Boal ReportingIs there toxic asbestos contamination in your yard? The Environmental Protection Agency wants to find out. The agency needs people to help out if they are familiar with two old processing sites in downtown Salt Lake City.
Twenty years ago a company called Intermountain Products made insulation from vermiculite in that building. There was asbestos in the vermiculite, and the EPA wants to find out if anyone knows whether any of the toxic mineral was carried off site.
Craig Barnitz of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality is helping the EPA search for people who worked at Intermountain Products from 1984 to 1987. They also want to find anyone who lived near 700 West and 800 South at that time, so they passed out fliers that ask: Is there asbestos contamination in your yard?
"The health concern is that in the waste rock, there may be amounts of asbestos," Barnitz explains. They do not know how much asbestos that may be, but they want to try to find out.
The parking lot across from the EnergySolutions Arena was the home to Vermiculite Intermountain which also made insulation from 1940 until 1984. Both plants popped the vermiculite ore into material used for decades in homes as a soil additive and attic insulation. Employees and neighbors might have hauled off waste rock. Both used vermiculite from a mine near Libby, Montana, which contained naturally occurring asbestos.
Barnitz says, "We do have information that other facilities across the U.S. typically left the waste rock outside the building for people to come and take it home to use as a soil conditioner."
The current owner of this building bought it in 1990, three years after the insulation company moved out. Later, the EPA contacted him and told him they had to come in and clean it up.
Scott Simons, who owns the building, says, "They went in and cleaned out everything inside the building, did all kinds of testing to make sure everything was clean when they left."
Crews spent $7.1 million to clean up both Salt Lake sites. Since 1999 the EPA has tried to track all destinations of the Libby asbestos which can lead to serious lung disease and cancer. Right now the EPA does not have information that anyone took the waste rock off site. Anyone who knows or thinks this waste material was used in their driveway or garden should contact the EPA by following the links found at the right of your screen.