Traces of asbestos not a concern for Newcomb cleanup

Debris remains in a pile at the site of the former Newcomb Hotel in Quincy.

The city of Quincy says it will move forward with the cleanup of the former Newcomb Hotel, despite a previous report that found traces of asbestos inside the building.

Quincy Building Inspector Michael Seaver says the building was gutted back in the late 1980s, at which point any asbestos found was removed or abated.

"So, we know that but we don't have the documentation to show it wasn't there," Seaver said.

But when a developer called, Three Diamond Development showed interest in renovating the old hotel a couple of years ago, the company paid to have the building inspected.

"A copy of that [inspection] showed a small amount of floor tile, category 1 non-friable asbestos on certain levels of the building," Seaver said. The report traced the findings of about 220 square feet of tile containing some amounts of asbestos, generally located in hallways.

"If we knew conclusively that, that was all that was in there, then by volume, that 200 square feet is negligible and the entire site wouldn't have to be monitored for asbestos contained material," Seaver said. "But the survey was done for renovation and not for demolition, the difference being in a pre-demolition inspection, they would open up wall cavities."

New concerns with the Newcomb arose after a fire destroyed the vacant building on Friday, Sept. 6. Due to safety concerns, the city contracted with Blick's Construction to demolish the building down to the first story. Before the city can proceed with the cleanup, it must pay for an additional person on site to monitor any traces of asbestos, mandated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Andrew Mason with the IEPA says he's confident construction crews will handle the debris removal responsibly.

"There are tons of old buildings. This is done all over the country. As long as it's being supervised, I'm confident it'll be done properly," Mason said. "The amount of asbestos found, it's not a big space, it's like a small room."

"We'll have a competent person on site the whole time materials are being moved to monitor air qualities and to observe the materials as they're being removed and if they identify anything that's suspicious, it'll be treated differently and taken to a designated place in a landfill," Seaver said.

The city received nine proposals Monday for debris removal. Seaver says once the city approves a contract, the cleanup will take weeks if not longer. The original estimate of the cleanup was $500,000.

"We don't even have ballpark figures at this point of even the first round of costs. We just received proposals [Monday] of the balance of the cleanup work, so we'll evaluate those this week and hopefully make a recommendation and we can move forward with that work fairly shortly," Seaver said.