Communications and Publications, Stanhope Hall
Princeton, New Jersey 08544
Tel 609/258-3601; Fax 609/258-1301
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Justin Harmon (609) 258-5732
Date: November 20, 1996
Asbestos Remediation to Force Closure of Portions of Firestone Library
PRINCETON, N.J., November 20 -- Asbestos remediation will force the closure of portions of Firestone Library this afternoon. While all asbestos levels measured in the building fall well below the federal safety standard for long-term exposure, the University plans an immediate remediation. Effective at 5 p.m. this afternoon, the original portions of floors A, B, and C -- excepting the 1988 addition -- will be closed to all employees and to all users of the Library; if remediation efforts proceed as expected, they will reopen at 9 a.m. on Sunday, November 24.
A worker performing maintenance work on a supply air vent Friday discovered that insulation in a duct leading from a fan that circulates air to portions of the building had come loose. The material was tested and found to contain approximately 10 percent asbestos. Subsequent air testing using a highly sensitive analytical technology yielded a maximum asbestos reading of 0.05 structures (fibers) per cubic centimeter in portions of floors A, B, and C.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration maintains a permissible exposure limit of 0.10 structures per cubic centimeter; the best scientific evidence suggests that, at this level, the average healthy worker may be repeatedly exposed, 40 hours per week, without adverse long-term health effects. However, the New Jersey state standard for reoccupying a space after asbestos remediation is more stringent, and this standard was exceeded by the maximum reading at the Library.
Remediation of the site will occur in two phases. The ductwork from the affected fan will be sealed, and the area served by its ventilation system partitioned. Then, all surfaces in the affected area will be cleaned. This work is expected to be completed by Saturday, November 23, at which point the air in the building will be retested. In a second remediation phase, the fan and ductwork will be cleaned; this work can be undertaken while the facility remains open.
Library employees who work on the affected portions of floors A, B, and C will be given time off until the building reopens.
A special liaison desk will be set up in Firestone's main lobby to permit library users to leave messages about library materials they urgently need before the building's reopening. While the library staff and contractors will be able to handle only a limited number of such requests, they will make every effort to respond to emergencies.
The office of the Dean of the College has encouraged faculty members who have course assignments due within the next two weeks that may be affected by the temporary delay of access to library materials to consider deadline extensions, as appropriate.
The remediation will be undertaken with the assistance of the state-licensed firm GA Environmental Services, which specializes in asbestos remediation.
Any updates in the schedule for the remediation work will be posted on the University's home page on the World Wide Web. Library employees with questions or concerns should contact Maria Gopel, human resources librarian.