The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control had to intervene in an asbestos abatement project performed on The Breakers' Tower on Ocean Boulevard prior to its scheduled demolition.
Exposure to asbestos can cause several types of cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, initial testing performed in June by Applied Environmental Solutions showed no asbestos material in the seven samples of joint compound that the company took from The Breakers’ Tower on Ocean Boulevard near 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach. They also took seven samples of joint compound from the registration building next door. All 14 samples showed no asbestos detected.
The registration building was demolished. But as contractors began removing dry wall in the tower next door, they found more possible asbestos-containing material.
Workers performing follow-up tests in the tower in November found asbestos in seven of the 13 joint compound samples they examined.
That’s when the state got involved.
“After the initial inspection and abatement of the tower, the demolition contractor hired an inspector to sample some remaining material in the building prior to demolition,” said DHEC spokesperson Laura Renwick in an email. “Because those sample results contrasted the initial sampling results by indicating some of the remaining building material was asbestos-containing material, DHEC conducted confirmatory sampling. Our sampling confirmed there is still asbestos-containing material at the site that must be abated prior to demolition.”
DHEC tested 23 samples of joint compound from the work site in November, and 17 samples tested positive for asbestos.
“Some of the joint compound that had already been removed by the demolition contractor was identified in the debris pile next to the building,” said Renwick, adding that an inspector was at the site last weekend to identify where any asbestos-contaminated material might be.
Renwick on Wednesday said DHEC was taking steps to contain the site.
“Fencing is around the site to secure access, appropriate signage is being put up, and the debris is being periodically saturated throughout the day to help prevent any material from leaving the site,” she said. “Water used on the debris is collected and disposed of as required by regulation.
“Generally, asbestos-containing material isn't considered harmful unless it's being actively disturbed. The precautionary measures listed above are being used until any asbestos-containing material is removed appropriately by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.”
Applied Environmental Solutions Chief Inspector Jeremy Hudson said in an email that Richard Eason of Environmental Service Group, which oversaw the abatement project, would best be able to explain what happened at the site.
Eason initially agreed to comment but did not return phone calls seeking to arrange an interview.