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Workers Finish Covering Asbestos At Old Davidson Mill

Contractors have finished installing a plastic liner, fresh earth and a fiber mat over an asbestos site at the Metrolina Warehouse near downtown Davidson. Last fall, runoff was discovered flowing from a slope behind the old mill, at 301 Depot St.  in Davidson.

The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said Friday, Feb. 3, that work on the slope behind the former Carolina Asbestos plant took three days. The project was overseen by the DEQ and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The DEQ said air monitors around the site and on workers detected no airborne asbestos during the work.

The work began on Monday, Jan. 30. Workers removed trees and bushes, then filled holes on the slope with concrete. A six-inch layer of fresh topsoil was added, then grass seed and fertilizer. Finally, a coconut fiber mat was put on top, to hold the soil in place while the grass grows.

The workers also built a soil berm around the area to direct rain away from the slope. And a green “filter sock” was installed at the bottom of the slope to catch runoff.

“We’re confident the landscaping work completed on the site this week will prevent future exposure to asbestos,” said Michael Scott, director of the DEQ’s Division of Waste Management, which oversaw the work. “But the state and the property manager will continue to monitor the site and ensure repairs can be made quickly if any problems arise.”   

Runoff at the site was found last fall. Environmental officials think heavy rain and/or burrowing animals eroded the slope, unearthing asbestos buried there decades ago when the factory made shingles, fabric and other asbestos products. The runoff flowed onto two residential streets.

Charlotte developers are considering tearing down the old mill and building a 183-unit apartment building on the site. But first, they’ll need a “brownfields agreement” with state officials, which spells how the site would be permanently cleaned up.

That would allow the developers, Miller-Valentine, to get cost estimates for a cleanup, and decide whether the redevelopment project is financially feasible.

Meanwhile, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is still working on separate plans to clean up asbestos found in the yards of homes near the old factory.


Feb. 3, 2017, NC DEQ press release, “State: work completed successfully to address asbestos at property in Davidson”

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.