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Asbestos find halts clearing of Vienna plant site

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan A view of some of the piles of debris at the former Johns Manville plant in Vienna.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan
A view of some of the piles of debris at the former Johns Manville plant in Vienna.

VIENNA, W.Va. — The word on the street in Vienna was asbestos was found in materials being cleared from the Johns Manville site.

“That’s true,” Mayor Randy Rapp said Monday. “The first load from one particular pile. That’s it,” he said calmly.

“We were having debris removed and Waste Management asked to test a sampling. We provided it and the sample came back hot. We stopped immediately. Nothing else from that one pile has left the lot,” Rapp said.

“This is not a case of the City of Vienna trying to do something illegal with taking asbestos to a landfill not certified to handle it. It’s a case of we didn’t know. We do now. The pile sits,” Rapp said.

There are lots of piles around the Johns Manville plant site. “The plant was in fiberglass production,” Rapp said. “They took glass marbles and spun them into fiberglass. They made headliners for automobiles there.”

The 19-acre plot has a huge amount of steel and other material from the dismantling of the buildings.

“We’ll continue with the removal of that and other materials,” Rapp said. “But we will make arrangements to have that pile of material moved to a certified landfill which is capable of handling asbestos. The only two anywhere close is in either Athens or the Bridgeport area. How much will it cost us? I don’t know. We haven’t even contacted a hauler yet.”

Rapp said the city met with the Department of Environmental Protection about the 108-year-old plant Monday morning. “The DEP responded promptly when informed about the situation and Waste Management has been great to work with. We have no issues with them.

“The DEP promptly made a plan and we will proceed with it,” Rapp said. “There’s still plenty of piles of steel and other materials at the site we can move without a problem and we’ll go ahead with that.

“I would think the way we have the riverfront property looking,” he said, “you would think they would want us to continue doing that.”

Rapp said the DEP was receiving lab work done by Tri-Ad Engineering, “and they will determine what to do with that. We did every kind of sampling we could do. We even drilled under the cement because we didn’t know if anything could be buried there.”

He paused a few seconds and added, “Anytime you have a project of this size with a plant like this which is this old, you’re could possibly run into things like this. We have and we will deal with it.”

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