The Navajo Forest Products Industries (NFPI) site is located at the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Indian Service Route 12 in the town of Navajo, New Mexico within Red Lake Chapter, Navajo Nation.
The site was developed in 1958 as a sawmill that initially produced lumber, and later, particle boards. It operated from 1962 to 1995. The site is 103 acres in total. Most of the NFPI facility buildings have been demolished, but the former Drying Kiln Building is still standing. The former Drying Kiln Building is a large, deteriorating concrete building. It was used to dry processed lumber at the facility.
Navajo Nation EPA (NNEPA) representatives requested USEPA evaluate the site for an asbestos cleanup. In 2018 and 2019, EPA made multiple visits to assess the site’s condition, evaluate the stability of the former Drying Kiln Building and take asbestos samples. Sampling results showed asbestos was in the former Drying Kiln Building, debris across the site and debris piles from demolished buildings.
On October 7, 2021 the final loads of asbestos containing waste material were shipped from the NFPI site for disposal and USEPA, its contractors, and all of the equipment that was used left the site by the end of the week. This completes the USEPA's clean up at the site.
In summary, the USEPA removed asbestos containing materials from the former kiln building, from piles of building debris, and from the soil surface of the 103 acre NFPI site. The USEPA removed over 4000 cubic yards of asbestos wastes and properly sealed them before transport from NFPI to a permitted off-site disposal facility in Joseph City, Arizona. In addition, the 10-bay kiln building was also demolished as part of the cleanup.
During clean up work hours USEPA placed air monitoring units inside and outside the work areas to ensure that asbestos did not spread. If a monitor had detected dust (as an indicator of possible asbestos) above a specified safe level, then work would have been stopped and dust control measures re-evaluated. However, at no time during the clean up was dust detected above that safe level.
In the future, the Navajo Nation EPA will continue assessment and cleanup activities at the site to address remaining asbestos and other types of contamination within soils and groundwater at the site.