July 3, 2001
Dear Jim Scott,
We are writing in response to the memorandum that you sent to Tom Yelvington on July 2, 2001 regarding McMurdo Asbestos Issues that in turn was forwarded to us. In this letter we wish to correct some inaccuracies in the memorandum specific to the remodel project at 203A.
In addition to the vestibule that had 100 square feet of asbestos containing vinyl flooring, we also removed vinyl flooring from 4 bathrooms (16′x12′ each = 640 total square feet) and the laundry room (16′x 14′ = 224 square feet). 964 square feet is approximately 10 times the amount of square footage listed in your memo. In the 1992 AECOM survey the vinyl flooring in the rest of the building was never tested, but was stated to be homogenous with the vestibule flooring.
In your memo you stated that the asbestos containing vinyl flooring was “removed as a single sheet”. We know as workers who participated in removing the flooring that this is not correct. We cut, ripped, and scraped the floor off causing the flooring to be torn in numerous pieces as well as greatly increasing (not minimizing) the airborne exposure during handling. This will be proven if the asbestos sheet vinyl is removed from the construction debris flat racks.
We have a discrepancy concerning the statistic you listed for the field tests in which you state 9 out of 10 samples tested negative for asbestos. On June 14th 4 field test were performed, two of these tests came back positive for asbestos in the bedroom drywall and joint compound. On June 16th 4 field tests were done, 1 field test came back positive for asbestos in the vinyl floor, of the 3 negatives, 1 test was a control done on new uninstalled drywall implying a degree of accuracy to the field tests. The following week a field test was performed in which drywall joint compound from another bedroom tested positive for asbestos. The correct statistic is 6 out of 10 samples tested negative, 4 were positive.
In regards to the recent air samples taken in 203A this is not representative of the poor air quality throughout the remodel process. Multiple penetrations were cut in each bedroom and lounge with circular saws emitting clouds of drywall dust which permeated the entire building. Additionally, the dust from these cuts and other drywall alterations was swept on a daily basis intensifying the amount of airborne particles to the point of low visibility. We are sure that anyone who worked on the building will attest to this. We are confused at how you determined that during renovation the exposure levels were low and well below the permissible level. Could you please explain this?
In closing, we recognize that you took proper action after the asbestos containing materials were identified. However, it is obvious that the facts are being misrepresented regarding the quantities of asbestos containing materials involved, the levels of exposure, and the validity of air sampling after a vast majority of the renovation has been done. This letter highlights many of those misrepresentations. It is important in assessing a situation of this magnitude that the facts and the amount of exposure should be represented accurately by workers involved in the project. Considering the information that we have now provided you with and the serious nature of asbestos exposure, we hope the situation will be handled in a more appropriate and professional manner.
Below is a letter from [FEMC manager] addressing the asbestos issue, pertinent passages from the Raytheon Supervisors Safety Handbook, and attached you will find the memorandum written by you in which we have been discussing.
S. Wilson Blake