It was a sweet deal, with the city of Belleville, Illinois offering to pay half the cost of demolition of an old theater for the owner if he would simply add a third screen to his drive-in.
The cost of the asbestos remediation and demolition combined was $81,000, with the asbestos remediation occurring first, as required by NESHAP (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants), a set of regulations established and enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, to insure that deconstruction of public (and private) buildings does not adversely impact the health of the American public.
NESHAP regulations include specific instructions on how to handle asbestos, including wetting it to prevent it dispersing into the air; not using certain power tools or equipment in the presence of friable asbestos (any material containing more than one percent asbestos) to prevent dispersing fibers into the air and onto surfaces; and putting it into EPA-designated containers after bagging it in plastic, and marking both the bags and the containers.
Asbestos-containing materials, or ACMs, if badly handled, can release asbestos fibers that have been implicated in a number of diseases, including asbestosis, small cell and non-small cell lung cancers, and malignant mesothelioma.
The first is a progressive respiratory disease whose symptoms are similar to other breathing disorders like asthma. The second are, of course, cancers. The last is also a form of cancer, but one that is particularly insidious and disturbing. Unlike most cancers, which manifest rather rapidly, mesothelioma can lie dormant for up to five decades before exploding into the sort of aggressive cancers for which the typical prognosis, after diagnosis, is about a year to live.
Sources: Belleville News Democrat, EPA