From the 1930s until the 1960s, the Carolina Asbestos Company operated at 301 Depot Street in Davidson, North Carolina. Asbestos-containing waste material remained uncovered at the property until 1984, when under the supervision of the North Carolina Division of Health Services, the then owner placed an engineered soil cap over the disposal area. It was reported that asbestos-containing material had been removed from the manufacturing location and used as fill at neighboring properties.
In September of 2016 when the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Brownfields Program held a public information session about plans for a multi-story mixed use redevelopment of the property. At the time, neighbors voiced concerns about potential asbestos exposure during construction. In October of that same year, a flood caused a breach of the existing soil cover and released asbestos fibers into the street bordering the property, further raising awareness and concern in the community.
At NCDEQ’s request in 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Emergency Response, Removal, Prevention and Preparedness Branch (ERRPPB) oversaw the emergency repair of the breach in the soil cap. Because of reports that in past decades, asbestos-containing material (ACM) had been removed from the manufacturing location and used as fill at neighboring properties, the EPA inspected properties identified as having ACM. Between November 1, 2016 through May 16, 2017, the EPA ERRPPB conducted soil sampling at 93 neighboring properties.
32 residential properties tested above the EPA’s health-based exposure limit. The EPA removed the top one-to-two feet of asbestos-contaminated soil, marked the end of excavation and installed clean fill and sod at those 32 properties. From May 15 through August 22, 2017, the EPA removed approximately 6,204 tons of asbestos-contaminated waste and disposed of it at an EPA-approved landfill. On January 25, 2018, the EPA sent letters to property owners stating the removal work was complete and that “No Further Action” was planned for their properties.
At the same time, NCDEQ’s Division of Waste Management oversaw the installation of an improved soil cap over the disposal area by the owners of the 301 Depot Street property. This improved cap is a temporary measure until the site is redeveloped through the Brownfields Program to provide for a permanently maintained hard cover.
In response to community concerns at the January 2020 meeting, NCDEQ and the EPA have expanded the asbestos-soil sampling area in the neighborhood surrounding the former Carolina Asbestos Company. The soil sampling is for properties not sampled by the EPA in 2017 that are located within the expanded sampling area.
The NCDEQ and the EPA will work with property owners to do further sampling and remove ACM/asbestos-contaminated soil from those properties with sample results above the EPA’s health-based exposure limit. The expanded sampling area may be modified in the future based on data collected over the coming months.