Federal environmental officials say they've finished testing more than 100 additional properties around an old asbestos mill in Davidson. Only six -- including a town-owned park -- need cleanups. That's fewer sites than after previous testing three years ago.
The Carolina Asbestos factory near downtown Davidson operated from the 1930s to the 1960s, producing asbestos fabric, tiles and shingles. Waste material was tossed into a ditch, and sometimes used as fill in nearby yards and driveways.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was banned in the 1970s. The concern is that if it becomes airborne, it can cause cancer and other deadly lung diseases.
In 2017, the federal Environmental Protection Agency tested 93 properties and spent $3 million to clean up 32 of them, including private yards and a church parking lot.
Then in January, residents of the historically Black West Side neighborhood around the plant told officials the asbestos was more widespread than earlier tests showed. So this summer, the EPA tested another 113 yards.
"Out of all those properties there are only six right now that would be considered for any sort of cleanup work where we would come back and do some excavation and backfilling with clean soil, which is a good sign," said Chris Tripp, the EPA's on-scene coordinator.
Those six sites include yards around single-family homes and the town-owned Roosevelt Wilson Park, where some areas have been closed for months.
Tripp says cleanups will begin this fall.
The state is considering labeling parts of the neighborhood as an "asbestos watch area," to warn future property buyers or developers of the possibility of contamination.
The old factory is now a warehouse and home furnishings market. A developer wants to turn it into a commercial center with shops, offices and a brewery.
About Davidson's asbestos sites
More information is on the Town of Davidson asbestos information page and the state Department of Environmental Quality website.
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