Marco Island citizens are concerned about the cleanup of debris at the Veterans Community Park site.
The Marco Eagle revealed Thursday that Quality Enterprises, a contractor being sued along with the city, will do the work starting Sept. 4.
The massive pile of rubble contains pieces of concrete asbestos pipe from old water and sewer lines that serviced the city. The pipes were removed and replaced with new ones by Quality Enterprises, the contractor for the Collier Boulevard reconstruction project.
Residents who live near and far from the site want to know whether the cleanup will be handled properly so that asbestos fibers don’t contaminate the air. They also want to know who will pay for the cleanup and how much it will cost.
City Manager Bill Moss sent City Council members and department supervisors a memo Wednesday, saying that the city had discussions with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Quality Enterprises about the cleanup. The contractor drafted a plan to remove the concrete piles “and the remaining soil, including any remaining pieces of asbestos concrete pipe,” Moss said in the memo.
“We recognize that there is a pile of material out there that needs to be handled,” Jon Iglehart, director of the South District of DEP, said Thursday. “Asbestos is dangerous when it’s airborne and breathed.”
He said that city representatives requested that the DEP review the process for removing concrete from the pile for reuse in the Collier Boulevard project.
Marco Island Public Works Director Rony Joel said that the plan includes separating the pure concrete remnants from soil containing asbestos pipe fragments and crushing it. No pipe containing asbestos would be crushed. Instead it would be stored for disposal at an approved landfill off of Marco.
Water will be sprayed on the material as it is moved to prevent any asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. Any water containing asbestos is not supposed to be allowed to leak into the ground. Trained workers will be on site to ensure that the asbestos is handled properly.
“The remaining pile will have primarily dirt, smaller pieces of concrete and asbestos material,” Iglehart said.
He noted that the city must provide an “assessment plan” to the DEP that will determine what’s in the remaining pile when the recyclable material is removed. A plan to take care of any pollutants must also be provided if it’s necessary.
The city’s public works director said air quality has been monitored while the city waited for the DEP to review the plans. The tests have shown no health threat or environmental impact, Joel said.
Iglehart noted that any health risks from the pile or the crushing operation are probably minimal. “There are levels that are considered not hazardous,” he said, based on Environmental Protection Agency rules for levels of exposure and exposure time.
The cost of the cleanup will be paid by Quality Enterprises and not the city, Moss said. The contractor is also paying for monitoring by American Management Resource Corp. Moss said AMR is well-qualified to monitor removal of concrete asbestos pipe.
“Their work will include the monitoring of air quality,” he said. “Any detected problems will result in the shut-down of the work until other means of handling the construction material is developed.”
Residents who want further information should contact Public Information Coordinator Lisa Douglass at 389-5037.