The historic Kilby Hotel in High Point, N.C., collapsed on June 11, 2014, and is now a heap of rubble. Unfortunately, the hotel’s remains cannot be hauled away until the state approves a plan for preventing the release of fibers from the numerous asbestos-containing products used to construct the hotel.
The Kilby Hotel was built in 1910, a period when asbestos and asbestos containing products were used extensively in construction projects. The Kilby gained historic significance because it held a prominent place in High Point’s black community during the era of Jim Crow segregation. The building had not been used for many years prior to its collapse.
At the request of the City, the United States Environmental Protection agency confirmed the presence of asbestos-containing products in the hotel’s ruins. The simple act of loading the rubble into trucks could cause the release of asbestos fibers into the surrounding atmosphere. The inhalation of asbestos fibers has been medically proven to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, an especially lethal form of lung cancer. For this reason, those tasked with working on sites where asbestos is known to exist face significant danger to their health if the necessary precautions are not taken.
Now, owners of the hotel are working with state officials to develop a plan for safely removing the debris from the site. Such plans usual require the services of a qualified asbestos removal contractor and the use of various kinds of barriers to limit the dispersal of asbestos fibers. All costs of asbestos remediation and removal will be paid by the building’s owners.
Many buildings in North Carolina constructed between 1850 and 1950 are still standing. A variety of asbestos-containing products were used in their construction, and that asbestos still poses a hazard to the buildings’ occupants or visitors. Despite the development of many effective techniques for asbestos removal, asbestos product exposure is still a significant health threat. Should the proper precautions not be taken, those exposed to asbestos could develop health problems – and those at fault could face personal injury lawsuits.
Source: High Point Enterprise, “Possible asbestos complicates Kilby cleanup,” Pat Kimbrough, July 10, 2014