Town Update on Asbestos Efforts
As a result of feedback from the community earlier this year, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are returning to Davidson to begin expanded testing in the neighborhood surrounding the former Carolina Asbestos Company. The no-cost soil sampling is for properties not sampled by EPA in 2017 that are located within the expanded sampling area.
Several weeks ago, property owners received this mailing from the NCDEQ and EPA that contained the following background information:
From the 1930s until the 1960s, Carolina Asbestos Company operated at 301 Depot Street. It was reported that asbestos-containing material had been removed from the manufacturing location and used as fill at neighboring properties. Inspection by the EPA identified asbestos-containing material at neighboring properties. Between November 1, 2016 and May 16, 2017, the EPA’s Emergency Response, Removal, Prevention and Preparedness Branch conducted soil sampling at those properties. At properties that met federal site-specific criteria and tested above the EPA’s health-based exposure limit, the EPA removed the top one-to-two feet of asbestos-contaminated soil, marked the end of excavation and installed clean fill and sod. From May 15 through August 22, 2017, the EPA removed approximately 6,204 tons of asbestos-contaminated waste and disposed of it at an EPA-approved landfill. On January 25, 2018, the EPA sent letters to property owners stating that the removal work was complete and that “No Further Action” was planned for their properties.
On January 13, 2020, DEQ presented a plan to manage the asbestos issue and promote awareness in the community, proposing an “Asbestos Watch Area” to monitor and manage soil disturbances in the neighborhood. During that meeting, residents asked for more sampling over a larger area and sampling of properties that were not tested in 2017. The current expanded sampling effort is in response to those requests.
While the DEQ and EPA are the subject matter and scientific experts on asbestos, the Town of Davidson is acutely aware of the damage the material has done to our community, and the disproportionate impact it has had on our historic westside community of color. The town is prepared to act in support of the residents’ wishes for further testing and has been coordinating with both agencies to facilitate their return to Davidson. Mayor Rusty Knox recently sent a letter to each resident within the expanded sampling area to express his support for testing for asbestos-containing material on each property. While of course the decision is ultimately up to the parcel owner, the mayor recognizes how important testing and any subsequent remediation would be to caring for the health and safety of the community. You may read the message in its entirety here.
All town-owned land, including Roosevelt Wilson Park, public works facilities on Walnut Street, and several homes purchased for use as affordable housing to prevent teardowns, have been or will be tested and, if necessary, remediated during this visit from the EPA. All agencies, including the EPA, NCDEQ, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the town, will continue to share information and answer questions from residents and property owners to ensure that they are making an informed decision as to whether or not they wish to have the soil sampled at no cost on their property.
The following topics will also be addressed moving forward:
- Revisiting the plan to manage the asbestos issue and promote awareness in the community with a proposal for an “Asbestos Watch Area” to monitor and manage soil disturbances in the neighborhood.
- Continuing to manage risks of several ongoing public works projects in the area, including an NCDOT road construction project, a Charlotte Water project, and a town sidewalk construction and park improvement project. The town park improvement project is now on hold, as the Community Development Block Grant Funded was rescinded in light of COVID-19 and the need to remediate asbestos-containing material at the site in Roosevelt Wilson Park. More information will be shared as we can move forward with the project.
- Next steps in the Brownfields Agreement for the adaptive use of the Metrolina Warehouse site to provide a long-term solution for the environmental challenges at the site.
More details on all of the topics above and each agency’s contact information is available on the town’s asbestos webpage here.