Hot Springs, Arkansas – After receiving a notification on Wednesday from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that brownfield grant funding for FY 2014 wasn’t awarded, the Hot Springs City continues to pursue several avenues to expedite the removal and cleanup of debris from the fire at Majestic Hotel. The Hotel is presently owned by Park Properties LLC owner Gary Hassenflu. Park Properties is based in the Kansas City.
It was on 27th February that the hotel caught fire, spurring a massive firefighting effort. A massive rubble pile was left behind in the downtown Hot Springs following portions of the structure that posed a public health threat were torn down.
The Board of Directors in Hot Springs condemned the structure formally on 18th March, 2014, giving the owner of the property one month’s notice to start cleanup properly. The city is now planning to cite Gary Hassenflu under a penalty clause that allows a judge to issue fines of $250 to $500 per day for his breach of the condemnation ordinance as the 1 month notice has expired. At present, more than 70 days passed after the expiry of the 1-month notice.
Additionally, in 2013 December, Hassenflu was issued a failure to secure the citation, informing him of failure to abide by the vacant structure code of the city. The court continued the date until 11th June when the judge could fine Mr. Hassenflu $250 for each day the remaining parts of the hotel remains unsecured.
The ADEQ (Arkansas Department of Environmental Protection) received the Phase 1 environmental assessment of the city as complete on 30th April, 2014, as part of the participation of the city in the voluntary cleanup program. The agency has confirmed the presence of materials containing asbestos. The finding makes the city eligible for potential federal funding assistance.
ADEQ has to approve the removal of the debris, asbestos cleanup, and the cleanup of the demolition site.
Asbestos is a highly regulated material due to its carcinogenic properties. Asbestos fibers, when airborne, could be breathed in quite easily. Inhaled asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and could cause severe health conditions and respiratory problems later. Asbestosis, a chronic scarring of the lung tissues, is one of the dangerous conditions linked to asbestos exposure. Inhalation of asbestos particles could also result in diseases like lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.