ANDERSON — Madison County is starting the process to remediate asbestos in the Madison County Government Center, after the substance was discovered during the installation of a new heating and cooling system.
The asbestos in the building, constructed in 1973, was first discovered in October 2016 in a survey report completed by HydroTech Environmental Consulting & Engineering at the request of former property manager Denny Williamson.
That survey found the presence of asbestos on sprayed-on fireproofing material. The inspection determined the fireproofing material was considered to be friable, which can become airborne if disturbed.
The fireproofing material was sprayed on structural steel beams and columns throughout the building, located on ceilings and walls in various rooms and on plumbing pipes above the dropped ceiling tiles.
In a press release, the Madison County Commissioners said this past week that during the installation of the new heating and cooling system, asbestos insulation was detected in crawl spaces above some of the ceilings.
The county hired Micro Air in July to measure the level asbestos fibers in the courthouse.
“The Micro Air report showed that no asbestos was present in any air samples collected in the Government Center,” the statement said. “Further, Micro Air believes that ‘airborne asbestos contamination is currently not an area of concern.'”
Remediation of the asbestos will have to take place before the installation of the new heating and cooling system can be completed.
John Richwine, president of the Madison County Board of Commissioners, said he wasn’t aware of the 2016 asbestos survey until the material was discovered in the courthouse.
“We were told there wasn’t any asbestos there when we started to place the heating and air conditioning system,” he said. “Once it was discovered we did the air quality testing.
“It’s not an issue,” Richwine said. “The asbestos is in the fireproofing of the building.”
The county was advised not to do any further work or disturb the sprayed-on fireproofing until remediation can be completed for the removal of the material.
“The question is long-term,” Richwine said. “Do we remediate the immediate areas or the entire building? In the meantime, we will do the areas impacted and the remainder of the building can be completed in the future.”
Commissioner Mike Phipps said he was notified of the asbestos problem in the Government Center on Tuesday by county attorney Jeff Graham.
Phipps said he doesn’t know who Williamson might have informed about the 2016 survey.
“I think it is very concerning,” he said. “There is a problem at the courthouse. Someone was aware that there was asbestos in the building.”
Phipps said no asbestos fibers were discovered in the air circulating in the building.
“We need to be transparent,” he said.