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Asbestos Still Abundant in Florida.

What do the following Florida locations all have in common?
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Asbestos. Each of these Florida locations are in the midst of some asbestos related complication.

Gifford Gardens Apartment Complex Gifford, FL: The decision was made to demolish this vacant 55-unit complex. In its currently uninhabitable state, it has become a haven for criminals and so it makes perfect sense to break out the wrecking ball and rid ourselves of this eyesore. However, the ceiling plaster that was used to construct the building contains asbestos. Now, before the wrecking ball can do its thing, a crew specially trained in asbestos removal must come in. They must remove the asbestos following very specific safety guidelines. This will no doubt be performed at a considerable expense.

University of Florida – Medical Science Building Gainesville, FL: The first floor of the Department of Ophthalmology Visual Science Lab and the ground floor’s morgue, autopsy suite and Department of Physiology labs had to be closed until filters could be installed in the affected areas. Routine air tests conducted during what was considered “low-risk” asbestos removal indicated that asbestos levels were higher than federal guidelines allow. Although UF officials report that no “patient areas” were affected, there does not seems to be an accounting of those individuals who may have been exposed in those areas that WERE effected.

Rainbow Springs Gift Shop
Dunnellon, FL: After a small fire in a Florida State Park visitor’s center, asbestos was discovered in ceiling and floor material. This means that the re-opening of the facility will be delayed several months. The cost of repair will increase and will have to include removal of ceiling tiles, portions of flooring treatment and debris then the subsequent removal of residual asbestos. During this entire time, special tests must be performed and state mandated regulations must be followed.

New Ocala Fire Station Ocala, FL: Plans for a new fire station just south of Tuscawilla Park experienced a small hiccup. Five buildings sit on the property purchased for the new establishment. The city had plans to auction off the structures, but those plans were halted when asbestos was found. Now the city has been forced to seek out estimates from companies certified to handle asbestos for the removal and/or demolition of the buildings.

Daytona Main Street Pier Daytona Beach, FL: What has often been referred to as “The Main Street Pier” has finally re-opened after being closed in 2009. After decades of wear and tear and deterioration, and then Hurricane Floyd, approximately $10 million of repairs and upgrades had to be done. Asbestos clean-out had to be performed before the new Ocean Center Convention Center, a Hilton Hotel, the Ocean Walk Shoppes and restaurant Joe’s Crab Shack could call this once popular Daytona Tourist magnet home.

The “Old” Amway Arena Orlando, FL: With the new Amway Center completed in 2010, something had to be done with the “old” building now that the Orlando Magic took up residence elsewhere. Demolition was inevitable. As the structure imploded, large quantities of debris, dust and chemicals became airborne. Spectators nearly two blocks away were showered with remains of the structure. Neighboring residents voiced a serious concern regarding exposure to hazards such as asbestos. The City official assured the community that “proper asbestos removal” took place prior to implosion – but did not mention to what extent or at what cost.

Broward County Courthouse Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Current and former employees of a Florida County Courthouse are bringing suit against the county alleging that the 50-year-old structure contains loose asbestos as well as other toxins. In addition to the employees of the building (including the 19 that have filed suit), the lawsuits states that thousands of individuals enter the courthouse every day. Broward County commissions acknowledge that the courthouse has issues. They agreed in 2009 to replace the potentially hazardous building with a new $328 million courthouse. The completion of that particular promise has yet to see fruition.

There are approximately 25,000 asbestos removal jobs of varying degrees of complexity in the state of Florida every year. It costs between $25 and $50 per square foot to remove. The United States spends about $3 billion a year on Asbestos removal and we have spent a staggering $50 billion over the past 20 years. Nearly 10,000 people die from asbestos related diseases every year; over 2,500 suffering from Mesothelioma. With these jaw-dropping statistics at hand, one is left to wonder …why do we continue to import and use asbestos containing products? It is true that OSHA and the EPA have implemented safety guidelines and regulations designed to protect people from asbestos exposure. Moreover, there are sufficient studies that demonstrate that asbestos left undisturbed (not airborne) is not harmful. But the problem is that we can’t always control when asbestos becomes airborne (and when we can it comes with a hefty price tag). What good are guidelines when natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes send homes and buildings crumbling from the very foundations on which they were built? What good are material safety data sheets when tragedies such as 9/11 pulverize our tallest buildings; contaminating the air we breathe for miles. Who can control the natural deterioration of any structure? Man-made buildings, regardless of quality at the time of construction, are impermanent at best. If we continue to use asbestos in building materials, today’s new construction will always just be tomorrow’s asbestos abatement project…or worse; the cause of an innocent person’s death; the cause of 10,000 innocent persons deaths per year. USA Today has published an article “When removing Asbestos Makes No Sense“. One could reasonably argue that continuing to use it makes even less sense.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any asbestos related condition, we can help you. Preserve your legal rights before time runs out. At Reyes, O’Shea & Coloca, P.A, we are dedicated to the fight for the rights of these individuals stricken with mesothelioma and other asbestos related conditions, who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.

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USA TODAY: When Removing Asbestos Makes No Sense

United States Department of Labor – OSHA – Recommended Format For Material Safety Data Sheets