In March 2016, demolition crews in Fulton, New York began tearing down the former Nestle factory that for nearly a century served up chocolates. The project has had to stop and start several times over the year after crews came up against “unexpected” asbestos issues – and money became tight. Now, the project has received an influx of cash from New York State officials to help keep it on track.
According to a Jan. 27 article in CNYCentral.com, the 24-acre campus factory is comprised of some buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. The factory halted operations in 2003 and now the buildings are being torn down in a redevelopment effort that will include a new grocery store.
Fulton mayor Ron Woodward said the continued uncovering of asbestos has resulted in unavoidable, costly delays citing discovery of pipes not included on the initial survey that contain asbestos, floors underneath floors, and asbestos within interior walls. But, he says the $350,000 grant from the state will help pay for some of the costs to prepare the land for the re-development effort.
While no longer used in new buildings in the United States, asbestos was added to a variety of products including insulation, steam pipes, furnace ducts, floor tiles and roofing shingles, that remain in buildings built prior to the regulations put in place in the 1970s. Asbestos is a carcinogen that causes mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the body’s organs, lung cancer, and other cancers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports there is no safe level of exposure.
Ensuring that asbestos is managed properly is critical to the health and safety of the workers and the public. Asbestos abatement, demolition and removal projects in New York are regulated by the Asbestos Control Bureau of the New York State Department of Labor. The management of asbestos requires strict adherence to local, state and federal guidelines including licensing of contractors, certification of all persons working on asbestos projects, and the pre-demolition survey of buildings to identify any asbestos that may be present.
The Nestle site has been plagued with financial and legal troubles. Fulton officials seized the property for $1 million in back taxes in 2015 after the previous owner failed an attempt to restart the factory and began to demolish buildings, according to a March 29, 2016 article on Syracuse.com. He was convicted in federal court in 2013 of violating the Clean Air Act for improper asbestos removal.
Mayor Woodward hopes focused work on the project will bring it to closure in March. At that time the grocery store will begin its work. The store had originally planned to begin work last June.
The danger of developing mesothelioma is a life-long risk for those exposed to asbestos. The incubation period for the cancer is decades. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.