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Debris removal at fire site brings concerns of hazardous material

Debris removal has begun at the old Barwick Mill site in Lafayette, which suffered a fire last month. The cleanup will last into the spring and include demolition and disposal of fire-damaged items.

The Environmental Protection Agency noted that debris piles from the fire that contain asbestos will also be removed from the site in the coming months. The EPA said that protective measures will be put into place to protect the area from stormwater runoff, erosion and to control dust emissions.

The property will be restored and then landscaped once the debris removal project is complete. The EPA estimates that the project will take anywhere from three to five months to complete.

Firefighters used more than 150,000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire. As of the end of December, 50,000 gallons of water left on the site have been removed. The historic carpet mill closed in the 1990s. Electrical explosions destroyed the building after the fire started.

The mill was 250,000-square-feet and saw its Southern end destroyed in the fire. That section of the mill is occupied by Ashgan Products, which specializes in reusing biodegradable products.

When the fire was burning large, thick plumes of black smoke could be seen for miles. At the time, no one was sure of what type of contaminants were in the smoke. The Chattanooga River also turned blue due to the runoff of the water used to fight the fire.

Nearby residents were told to remain indoors as firefighters battled the blaze for days due to the asbestos issue.

The EPA is going to monitor all particulate matter at the site during the demolition and debris removal project. A water wall will also be put to use to prevent asbestos from entering into the atmosphere.

The EPA estimates that it will cost the owner of the building $850,000 to complete the demolition and debris removal project.

An experienced workplace illnesses attorney can walk you through your potential case if you have suffered an illness on the job.

Source: Northwest Georgia News, "Debris removal begins at Barwick Mill fire site in LaFayette," Josh O'Bryant, Dec. 29, 2016

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