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Release: June 12, 2000

Phillips Hall renovation project is halted for asbestos clean-up

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The basement of Phillips Hall, the site of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning project, has been closed temporarily until it can be cleaned. Some debris found at the site Tuesday, June 6 contained asbestos.

Envirosafe Air of Omaha, Neb., was scheduled to clean the area over the weekend.

Based on tests conducted Wednesday, there is no cause for concern about asbestos exposure for faculty, staff or students who work or take classes in the floors above the Phillips Hall basement, said officials from the University of Iowa Health Protection Office. Those officials gathered both air samples and micro-vacuum samples throughout the basement and found no evidence of airborne asbestos or general asbestos contamination.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning project began over spring break, the week of March 13, when asbestos abatement crews came to clean out materials previously identified as containing asbestos by the engineering firm contracted by the UI for the project.

A preliminary investigation of the incident indicates that some small saddle blocks on pipe hangers were not identified as materials containing asbestos until after the asbestos abatement crew had finished its work and the project's primary contractor began removing pipes, pipe hangers, and the saddle blocks. Asbestos abatement personnel from the University's Facilities Services Group discovered the possibility of asbestos and called the Health Protection Office to investigate.

University officials notified the Iowa Department of Natural Resources of the presence of the asbestos Thursday, June 8.