Ceiling tile removal at the former Kline’s Dept. Store building located at South Barstow Street has been put on hold by the Health Department in Eau Claire City-County until an asbestos inspection is carried out.
Tate Zurbuchen, a department environmental health specialist, reached the building on Wednesday and discovered workers removing the ceiling tiles. Zurbuchen asked the workers to stop the task until the completion of an asbestos testing. Zurbuchen said the workers complied.
According to Zurbuchen, he talked with the owner of the building Ms. Lois Heymans. Heymans, a Winona (MN) resident, agreed to stop the tile removal until she would be able to arrange an inspection for asbestos.
According to Zurbuchen, he discussed with the property owner and she said she had made calls for getting the inspection done. The inspection should be conducted there shortly, Zurbuchen said.
One of the inspectors with the state Department of Natural Resources had contacted Lois Heymans on last Tuesday to ask to arrange an asbestos inspection. However, Heymans asked him to leave the building, reports indicate.
Heymans says she had conducted an asbestos abatement in the structure in year 1998. She said she had the paperwork for the work, but it didn’t apparently meet the requirements of the state. When Jeff Flatness, a DNR inspector showed up on Tuesday and asked to carry out an inspection, Ms. Heymans said she had shown him the previous asbestos abatement project’s paperwork but was unwilling to have Flatness inspect the structure.
Heymans says she just informed that she had to talk to her attorney before the inspector started walking around her building. She said she wasn’t in fact aware of what her legal rights were.
According to Heymans, she is willing to have the asbestos test done by the coming week. However, she believes the previous asbestos work was enough. She said she unsuccessfully tried to meet with Mr. Flatness 2 days prior to the auction at the property on Saturday.
According to Zurbuchen, the members of city council contacted him regarding the removal of asbestos taking place without any proper inspection.
Mark Davis, the statewide asbestos coordinator with the DNR, said the council members contacted the department regarding the lack of asbestos inspection at the property.
Exposure to asbestos could cause malignant mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer which generally starts showing symptoms after 20 to 40 years after the initial exposure.