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 Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information.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.
John Hollenhorst reportingHUGH HARVEY/CO-OWNER: "YES I THINK THE POTENTIAL WAS RECOGNIZED THERE WAS ASBESTOS HERE."
So the question is: Why were workers at a mining company in Moab allowed to handle the dangerous material without sufficient protection?
A mining operation just outside Canyonlands National Park has run into trouble over allegations that plant workers were illegally exposed to cancer causing asbestos.
The state conducted an inspection yesterday, but did not announce any findings.
Until regulators from the State air quality division wrap up their investigation, we won't know if any laws were broken our how serious the asbestos problem is.
But an employee who blew the whistle says many workers were heavily exposed to the asbestos, even though supervisors knew it was dangerous.
The plant is located in a spectacular bend of the Colorado River near Dead Horse Point. But the redrock cliffs make a striking contrast with the plant's green siding. It may, in fact contain tens of thousands of square feet of asbestos insulation.
Some of seems to be corroded and crumbling after 40 years in the harsh desert.
Workers were assigned to remove siding from part of the plant... now replaced with tan plastic material.
A worker who became concerned about asbestos collected samples and paid for a lab analysis.. which confirmed the old siding is high in asbestos.
He reported to state officials that the removal operation stirred up a lot of dust, employees worked without proper safety gear, and some of the asbestos was simply buried.
Company officials deny some of the accusations. But they acknowledge that supervisors should have suspected the presence of asbestos.
HUGH HARVEY/CO-OWNER" GENERALLY SPEAKING, YES, WITH A PLANT OF THIS AGE, IT WOULD BE COMMON TO HAVE ASBESTOS, YES, AND THERE WAS AN AWARENESS OF IT, YES. WE DIDN'T HAVE THE LEVEL OF EXPERTISE THAT PERHAPS WE SHOULD HAVE HAD REGARDING ASBESTOS ISSUES AT THIS PLANT."
Company officials are conducting their own investigation..and they promise strict adherence to the rules in future removal operations.
We'll have more tonight at 10.