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Grundy County looking to budget asbestos removal for courthouse

Published: Monday, May 12, 2014 9:31 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – The Grundy County Courthouse could undergo extensive asbestos removal during the county’s next budget cycle.

Asbestos comprises much of the courthouse’s pipe insulation and tiling, and has proved to be an increasing hazard within the courthouse.

In the last year, emergency asbestos removal was needed twice – once after a plumbing issue within a bathroom and another after carpeting in the basement was being replaced, Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan said.

According to Callahan, the courthouse’s boiler is very old and was insulated with asbestos before the substance was known to cause health problems.

“There’s nothing dangerous about it unless it gets disturbed and becomes airborne,” Callahan said Monday.

The most-recent emergency removal cost the county $9,600 between eradicating and replacing the asbestos.

Callahan discussed the issue at the Grundy County Facilities Committee meeting last week where he presented a quote to have all of the asbestos removed from the courthouse. The three-phase project was quoted at about $36,000 by the same company that had completed the emergency removals.

The project phases were prioritized by which areas were the most dangerous or at risk, and the courthouse’s boiler room was deemed the largest risk, Callahan said.

“Who knows? Maybe you could go another 20 years without anything going wrong,” Callahan told the committee. “But if you did have a problem later on with a pipe burst, you’re going to have to potentially shut the courthouse down.”

Facilities Committee Chairman John Roth said he would like to see a presentation from a contractor about the urgency of the problem, which would help make it a priority on next year’s budget cycle.

The county does not currently have enough money budgeted to tackle the problem, but will begin preparing next year’s budget soon.

“Regardless of what happens in November in the budget process, I want this brought up,” Roth said. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Callahan assures the courthouse is safe and that air samples were taken after the last asbestos removal project.

“There’s nothing else, no other areas, that are disturbed right now,” Callahan said Monday. “It’s more preventative. You always want to avoid those emergency situations.”

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