Asbestos removal to begin at old New York factory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working to stop the potential spread of asbestos at the former Arkell and Smiths Sack Co. facility in Canajoharie, New York. Exposure to asbestos can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma.
“At the request of the local government, the EPA sent staff and federal resources to stop the potential release of asbestos,” says Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator. “EPA will make sure that the buildings are taken down properly and that asbestos is not spread into the community.”

The EPA was notified by Mayor Francis Avery of Canajoharie in November of 2015 about hazardous conditions posed by the dilapidated and collapsing buildings at the complex located at the intersection of Hill and Mill Streets. The original factory was built in the 1860s and was once home to the manufacturer of the first flat-bottom paper sack. The property was sold in 2007 and fell into disrepair. The site is 2.6 acres and contains seven interconnected buildings covering 65,000 square feet.

In February of 2016, the EPA took building and debris samples and determined that the asbestos from badly deteriorating structures on the site has the potential to impact the surrounding area. The buildings are falling apart and the asbestos within the building deteriorated to a point it could spread beyond the property. Homes are located within 30 feet of the site.

The EPA will demolish the buildings and asbestos-containing materials will be either removed or secured at the site, and disposed of properly at permitted facilities. Materials containing asbestos will be kept adequately wet until they are collected and properly disposed of. The air will be monitored during operations to ensure that asbestos is not spreading.

The EPA is coordinating with the village of Canajoharie and local police to minimize disruptions during the work. Throughout the EPA’s work, the community will be kept informed.

While this site is not on the Superfund National Priorities List, the Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA will seek to hold any liable parties accountable for the costs of the investigation and cleanup.

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