NEWPORT CITY – Cleanup crews were busy Friday removing asbestos flooring at the Orleans County District Courthouse. Friday was a regular furlough day for court staff so court was not in session.
The tiles were in the lobby area of the courthouse, Al Simard, district facility manager for Buildings and General Services, said. The lobby is the only place in the building with asbestos tiles.
“We’re going to get the asbestos out of the way because it’s hazardous,” he said. The state will probably replace the flooring with carpeting. “The least expensive thing we can do.”
The state could have left the asbestos tiles alone, Simard said, but building staff were not permitted to do any type of maintenance on the floor such as make repairs, scrape or buff. Any type of damage could have distributed the fibers and caused a health issue.
“We didn’t want to dig into it,” Simard said. “You just couldn’t touch it. This way, by removing it, they can go in there and clean it, sweep it, mop it, strip it.”
Simard doesn’t know the age of the asbestos tiles; however, he said they were very old and had been there a long time. “These have been on our asbestos inventory list since I’ve been here, for 15 years,” said Simard. “We finally got enough money to do.”
The money came from the state. Simard doesn’t know how much the project will cost.
There were no other asbestos floor tiles elsewhere in the building. Simard doesn’t know how many other state owned buildings have asbestos, but he did say it is the only one he knew of in his district, which consists of Newport, St. Johnsbury and Barre.
“Once this is done, we’re in good shape,” he said.
Work will continue through the weekend. The courthouse should be open Monday.