Health issues discussed as House 2 dismantled

House 2 stands stripped down and vacant as it awaits its final destruction. The operation has brought to light certain safety concerns about the presence of asbesos on campus. PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIES

Brendan Kergin, News Editor  Ω

Don’t Panic.

The famous advice from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is being repeated by campus safety officials about asbestos on campus.

The Omega’s former home, House 2 near Old Main, is slowly being dismantled.
Abatement crews have been inside for about a week now, carefully removing the harmful material from the house so it can be knocked down later.

“The materials are solid, it’s not friable so there’s not air contamination or anything like that,” said Gordon Maurits, safety officer for the Occupational Health and Safety on campus.

Friability means how easy it is for a solid to be broken up into smaller bits.

This is an issue around asbestos as it is dangerous as a dust.

Then people breathe it in and the damage is internal.

“The area is cordoned off and measures are being taken as per WorkSafe standards for dealing with the hazardous materials that have been found,” said Maurits.

To deal with any dust that may be kicked up the house is being sprayed down with water, greatly reducing the likelihood of anything becoming airborne.

The perimeter of the building is also closed to the public to keep students a safe distance away from the project.

Stacey Jyrkkanen, Occupational Health and Safety department manager, has been working on asbestos removal from campus for awhile.

“People hear that (asbestos) and they get into a bit of a panic. I’ve been working on the Old Main project all summer,” said Jyrkkanen.

“We found asbestos here and it was actually in a lot higher concentration than what was found at Omega.”

Old Main was upgraded throughout the summer with seismic upgrades, asbestos removal and new windows put in. All asbestos was safely removed.

It was then bagged and taken to a regulated disposal site.

“Asbestos was a really common building material and as long as it’s not disturbed it’s not a health issue.

“It’s primarily when contractors and construction people and demolition get in and they start tearing things apart and disturbing that, that’s when you have to start looking at the health issues and that’s why any contractor who’s doing demolition in an area where they have asbestos has to go through stringent WorkSafe procedures for dealing with removal,” said Jyrkkanen.

With House 2 being removed it is likely a new bike compound will be put in its place, with shelter and lights.

It is hoped this will encourage more cycling to and on campus.

The newspaper relocated across the road about a month ago and can now be found in House 4.


    • editorofomega Oct. 1, 2011