The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) issued a violation notice to the owner of the South Point Biomass Generation Plant regarding the improper handling of asbestos during demolition work at the facility.
According to Herald-Dispatch.com, the notice of violation was issued by the Portsmouth Local Air Agency, which oversees air quality issues on behalf of the Ohio EPA.
A complaint was filed with the agency last fall alleging that Biomass employees were being exposed to asbestos fibers as demolition work took place on the third floor of the power house building. Two buildings near the power plant building had already been demolished and removed.
The Portsmouth Local Air Agency said that an investigation of the complaint discovered what appeared to be friable, asbestos-containing materials throughout the building. The finding was later confirmed by an analysis of materials collected during the inspection.
When asbestos is in a friable state (meaning it is easily crumbled), it poses a danger to human health. If the microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled or ingested and may cause serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer.
Once the presence of asbestos in the building was confirmed, a notice of violation was issued. According to the Herald-Dispatch.com, the notice said the company:
- Failed to notify the appropriate agency prior to commencing demolition work in a building containing asbestos
- Failed to remove the asbestos from the building prior to demolition
- Improperly stored asbestos-containing materials
The Portsmouth Local Air Agency declined further comment citing the ongoing investigation. Biomass owner Mark Harris could not be reached for comment, according to Herald-Dispatch.com.