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County proposes covering asbestos at library

| September 16, 2005 12:00 AM

Asbestos-bearing floor tiles in the county library in Libby may be covered up rather than removed following discussions between the county commissioners and the president of the library board.

The tiles were discovered when a contractor started to remove carpeting as part of a remodeling project that includes the installation of new shelves and furniture. The tiles apparently date to the construction of the library in the 1960s, when asbestos was a common component in building materials.

Testing of a piece of one the tiles by a laboratory in Spokane confirmed the presence of asbestos. A Missoula asbestos abatement contractor estimated the cost of removing the tiles at around $11,000.

At a meeting on Wednesday, county commissioners Marianne Roose and John Konzen asked library board president Pat Pezzelle if the tiles really need to be removed. If the tiles aren't broken or disintegrating they may not pose a hazard, the commissioners suggested.

"We've always been told if you don't touch it, you can cover it up," Roose said.

"There are tiles like that in houses all over the country," Konzen said. "It's when you tear it up that you have to dispose of it properly."

Pezzelle agreed that if the tiles don't have to be removed the board might be able to save $11,000.

Pezzelle and the commissioners visited the library and inspected the area where the carpet was to be removed. They found that the carpet had been glued directly to the tiles, making removal difficult without damaging the tiles.

"I think they're going to have a heck of a time getting this up," Konzen said.

The commissioners proposed looking into the possibility of leaving the old carpet in place and using it as a pad for the new carpet.

In another project, the library board has given a roof repair project the go-ahead, Pezzelle said. The commissioners previously approved the expenditure of up to $20,000 for the project. The work is expected to cost around $21,900, with the library making up the difference out of its own budget, Pezzelle said.

The roof project is intended to eliminate leakage that has plagued the library for a number of years. The library board elected to go with a new membrane rather than an entire new roof — expected to cost about twice as much — after finding that the roof is structurally sound, Pezzelle said.