City puts demolition on hold after asbestos discovered

RAWLINS — The demolition of a building has been put on hold after officials discovered a not-so-pleasant surprise while tearing it down.

City Manager Scott Hannum said asbestos was discovered in the former Uptown Motel, located at 619 W. Spruce St., during the first day of demolition. The project was immediately suspended.

“There was some asbestos removal taken place the city had paid for,” Hannum said. “The way it was documented and put into a file showed that the asbestos abatement was full and complete.”

However, that proved to not be the case when workers discovered asbestos. Hannum said the city immediately contacted the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to see if the agency could sign an emergency asbestos abatement plan. DEQ representatives are expected to be in Rawlins today and an asbestos specialist has already been in to evaluate the building.

The city has invoices from 2014 that suggests the asbestos abatement had already occurred. Hannum said the building still containing asbestos was a “misunderstanding” in the documentation.

The demolition has a cost of $20,000 to $25,000, Hannum said, which will likely increase now. Hannum said it would cost an estimated $16,000 to $20,000 to remove a “very small amount” of asbestos. Other buildings in town, he said, would run $450,000 in removing asbestos.

Hannum said when DEQ signs off on the abatement, the asbestos and building should be down rather soon. However, the process will likely not resume until Monday.

Since workers had been actively tearing the building down, there is a pile of rubble in the northwest corner of the building that does have asbestos within. However, Hannum said the scene was not dangerous “with it being contained.”

Hannum said workers who had been inside the building did not suffer from any ill effects.

Workers have covered the rubble with plastic and anchored it. He said the city would keep an eye on it to ensure it remains covered in case of wind or animals.

Hannum said the process of taking the building down began in March 2010.


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