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Asbestos Cleanup of Former Pillsbury Mills Plant Costs Taxpayers $1.8 Million, Site Still Contaminated

Earlier this year, we published an article about a massive asbestos abatement project at the former Pillsbury Mills Plant in Springfield, Illinois. The project, which was to span 18 acres, including a 750,000 square feet processing plant, warehouses, storage silos, and office space nearly the equivalent of four retail supercenters, was expected to take six months to complete at a cost of $1.8 million to taxpayers. Now, Springfield’s State Journal-Register (SJR) reports that, nine months later, “an undetermined amount” of asbestos still remains at the plant.

Although “crews from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed more than 2,200 tons of asbestos-contaminated debris and 1,160 cubic yards of bulk asbestos from the site, as well as toxic chemicals and waste oil,” based on the asbestos that remains, in November a Sangamon County judge refused to lift an injunction blocking owners from the mammoth site.

Environmental regulators say the “remaining asbestos is not a public-health hazard, so long as the materials are not disturbed.” However, according to project coordinator Kevin Turner, “who was not part of the court hearing,” conditions were “too dangerous” for workers in some badly deteriorated buildings. In terms of the remaining asbestos being a threat to neighborhoods, Turner says it’s not. “In terms of scrapping operations or going in there, absolutely it’s a hazard,” he said.

Past statements about the state of the plant suggest that it actually is a hazard to more than just the workers. Springfield Fire Marshal Chris Richmond said, “city and state officials are working to secure the site, now that federal cleanup crews have moved on.”

“We know the site has a significant past history of, other than the ownership, of folks in the community breaking into or trespassing in that facility for a variety of purposes,” he said. “In some cases, it’s been young folks, juveniles, curious about an old factory complex.”

According to the Marshal, “asbestos caution signs have been updated and fences repaired, but city and state officials would continue to monitor the property.”

Neighbors have complained over the years about trespassing and illegal salvaging.

Note that another hearing was set for Dec. 18 on the request from partners in P. Mills LLC to be granted access. Reports on the outcome of that hearing have not yet surfaced.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, please see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection may lead to better outcomes.

 

Sources

Landis, Tim. "Asbestos Remains at Pillsbury Site after $1.8 Million Cleanup." The State Journal. The State Journal-Register, 15 Nov. 2017. Web. 26 Dec. 2017.