Asbestos found at Racquet Club in an expected discovery
Asbestos was discovered inside the Racquet Club in the weeks before City Hall started a renovation of the building, Park City officials said, a scenario they foresaw as preparations were underway and one that they say they are carefully handling.
According to Ken Fisher, who manages City Hall’s recreation programs, crews hired to test for asbestos discovered what he describes as a "very small layer" of the cancer-causing material underneath the surface of the indoor tennis courts. Asbestos was also found in drywall in the area where a restaurant once operated, Fisher said.
Fisher said the asbestos was contained inside the surface of the tennis courts and inside the drywall, and it was not airborne. Officials would have been more worried if the asbestos was airborne and people were inhaling the material.
Fisher said people who used the Racquet Club over the years were not exposed to asbestos. Had there been a danger, Fisher said, the Racquet Club would have been closed down.
"There is no health hazard. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the facility open," he said.
The two places where the asbestos was found are closed as part of the Racquet Club’s shutdown timetable for the renovation.
Fisher said the workers want to remove the asbestos by the end of next week, and the removal from underneath the surface of the tennis courts has been finished. Roger Evans, City Hall’s interim chief building official, said the asbestos will be disposed of at a facility designed to accept asbestos.
He suspected the asbestos has been in the locations since the 1970s, when the building went up as a private-sector health club. City Hall purchased the facility in 1987.
Workers were seen on Wednesday wearing protective suits and masks as they went in and out of a door on the east side of the Racquet Club. An indoors entryway to the area where they were working was cordoned off with a giant plastic sheet that was taped in place. A danger sign cautioned people about the asbestos, indicating that it is a "cancer and lung disease hazard." The area is fenced off.
The workers on the east side of the building loaded material onto truck parked just outside the door. They covered the bed of the truck with a plastic tarp to keep the material from falling out during the transfer to the facility.
Evans said asbestos is "quite common in older buildings." He said the crews at the Racquet Club handled the material correctly.
"It’s not a surprise," he said about the presence of asbestos. "I think they pretty well knew it was there."
According to the EPA, asbestos exposure is linked to two forms of cancer — lung cancer and mesothelioma, which the EPA says attacks the membrane that lines the lungs, chest, abdomen and heart. More information about asbestos is available on the EPA’s website, http://www.epa.gov . Select the ‘A-Z Index’ link at the top right of the home page and then scroll to the ‘Asbestos’ link.
City Hall is in the early stages of an $8.3 million redo of the aging Racquet Club. Most of the building will be demolished and a new athletic center will be put up at the site. The redone recreation center will offer more fitness space and new attractions, and it will feature numerous environmental upgrades.
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