Asbestos Hazard Testing to Begin: Soil Sampling Targets Zonolite Vicinity

News Article

SOURCE: The Trenton Times

Asbestos Hazard Testing to Begin: Soil Sampling Targets Zonolite Vicinity

Trenton Times
March 23, 2006

Testing of the soil at a random sampling of homes around the former W.R. Grace and Co. Zonolite plant here, along with about 18 public parks within about two miles of the Industrial Drive site, will take place between April 3 and April 14, a federal Environmental Protection Agency official said last night.

The results of those tests -- which will examine the soil for possible asbestos contamination from the plant -- should be available by May 15, said Kimberly Staiger, an on-scene coordinator with the EPA's Edison office.

Staiger was among more than 12 federal, state and local officials present yesterday evening for an informal meeting at Klockner Elementary School, during which residents could ask officials questions about the upcoming tests in a one-on-one setting. A few dozen residents attended and spoke with the officials.

Staiger said about 800 residents in Hamilton and Lawrence who live near the former plant were notified by mail of the meeting.

About 24 houses within a half-mile of the plant, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be tested. The houses in Hamilton and Lawrence were randomly chosen by the EPA from among a group built before 1991, have had no new earthwork done in the yard since then and are downwind of the plant.

She said the owners of some homes randomly selected refused permission to allow testing. Others, whose houses were not selected, offered to let the EPA test their soil. She said those residents' names and addresses were taken and some of their properties may be tested to replace those that declined to take part.

The owners of homes sampled will be notified by phone as soon as test results are available. Other neighborhood residents will be informed by mail, and media outlets in the area also will be informed, she said.

Officials of the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection last year conducted air modeling on the plant in an effort to determine where asbestos from the W.R. Grace plant's smokestacks might have landed.

That report, which has not been released to the public, indicated asbestos likely was blown to portions of the Whitehead Manor section of the township as well as the Hutchinson Mills neighborhood. Both are within a half-mile of the plant site.

For more than 40 years the plant processed Vermiculite ore for use in fireproofing, insulation and garden products. The ore was shipped to the Hamilton plant and dozens of others around the country from a mine in Libby, Mont. That mine was closed in 1990.

The mine later was found to contain tremolite asbestos, a potent form of the mineral known to cause lung disease, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a fatal cancer.


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