The Saratoga Sun -

Terminal building, runway present complications


Joe Jones had some bad news for the Shively Field Airport Board. Jones was contacted by Saratoga to do an informal inspection to determine asbestos levels in the airport’s old terminal building, and his findings revealed significant levels of the carcinogen. Asbestos poses no risk if undisturbed, but when the material becomes airborne during demolition or construction it can lodge in the lungs and cause mesothelioma or other conditions.

In the past, Jones said he was “accredited in all phases of asbestos abatement” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Though that accreditation has lapsed in recent years, Jones’ qualifications include experience as a contractor, trainer, project designer, management planner and building inspector.

The airport board asked Jones to do his testing because the board was interested in tearing down the old building, and Jones said the age of the building made it a likely candidate for contamination.

His surveys of various building materials in the structure included floor tiles, adhesive used on the tiles, ceiling surfacing, roofing material and the tape and taup used on sheet rock in the building. All of these except for the roofing material came back positive for the chrysotile form of asbestos, with concentrations ranging from 1.2 percent to 10 percent of the materials.

As board member Richard Raymer said of the findings, “It gets very expensive from here.” Zoning officer Kent Smith said that he had spoken with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and they told him that a contractor would have to be hired to do the asbestos abatement if the town opted to tear down the building. Smith said he had looked into contractor quotes, and removal would probably cost around $20,000, which did not include the cost of demolition.

That cost may end up being higher if the asbestos is found to be “friable” – disintegrating and easily released into the air. “This is all kind of questionable, whether it’s friable or not. It’s all damaged and that’s the problem with it. If it wasn’t all damaged, you could probably cut that sheet rock down in pieces and not disturb it,” Jones said. According to Jones, if the asbestos is friable, it would have to be wetted down, double bagged and shipped to a hazardous materials dump. The non-friable variety, on the other hand, could be safely buried in the town landfill.

Left as is, the terminal building poses no risk as long as people don’t enter the building. Given the cost of abatement and demolition, the town (which owns the building) may leave the building standing for the time being, delaying demolition till it is more financially feasible.

Taking up much of the remainder of the meeting was a detailed report from Sage Engineering, which was hired to complete a taxilane rehabilitation and hangar extension project for the airport. According to representatives Brek Ibach and Dave Shultz from the firm, the project may be done as soon as Memorial Day, but progress is largely weather dependent.

Wet sub-grade material is preventing compacting of the soil underlaying the taxiway, which is necessary prior to paving. Much discussion was devoted to whether work crews should till the soil and wait until the sub-grade dries out, or whether the sub-grade should be treated with fly ash to dry it out faster. The fly ash treatment would likely cost more, but waiting for a long stretch of dry weather would represent a gamble that may extend the amount of time needed to complete the project. Eventually, the board decided to try tilling the sub-grade and moving forward without the fly ash treatment. The board recommended to the town council to grant the contractors an unspecified extension in light of these challenges.

The next airport board meeting will be held 5 p.m. June 16 at the Saratoga Town Hall.


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