The Lafayette Natural Science Museum and Planetarium demolition delayed because of asbestos, increased the time to tear it down from 72 days to a delay of seven months. It also added a 40 percent increase to the demolition contract, increasing it from $295,500 to $412,591.
Demolition delayed because of asbestos adds to history of the building
The building was constructed in 1969, a time when asbestos was widely used. However, by 2001 it had fallen into disrepair and was vacated in 2001. In the past 16 years, the place became a place for curiosity seekers and others who abused the abandoned structure.
By 2015, the City-Parish Council approved demolishing the building and replacing it with a green space for residents. Delays occurred in the years since as drainage improvements were added to the scope of work, followed by the asbestos discovery.
A lesson for all
This type of scenario is not unique to Lafayette, Louisiana as thousands of buildings across the country were built during the years asbestos was freely used in construction of government, commercial, and residential building.
This unfortunate surprise happened because the city’s engineering department assumed that there was no asbestos since the air-conditioning system was reported to be clear of the mineral. However, because the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality required a DEQ permit that included an asbestos assessment before demolition, asbestos was discovered in the walls as a waterproofing material.
The lesson for anyone who intends to disturb a building built from the 1930s through the 1970s, is to check for asbestos before any work is begun. Proceeding without an inspection, and possibly abatement, can cost considerably more than expected in both money and the lives of those who may be exposed to the fibers.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure and the result can include lung cancer, asbestosis, and the fatal disease malignant mesothelioma.