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Asbestos removal begins for Libby Library floor

| September 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Cleanup of asbestos-bearing floor tiles is under way at the county library in Libby.

The library will be closed until Oct. 3. By then, the tiles should be removed and new carpet and other improvements in place, said library board president Pat Pezzelle.

The tiles, apparently dating to the construction of the library in the 1960s, were found when a contractor started to remove carpeting as part of a remodeling project that includes the installation of new shelves and furniture. The old carpet is firmly glued to the tiles, making removal impossible without disturbing the tiles and creating an asbestos exposure hazard.

An estimate of around $11,000 to remove the tiles was obtained from a Missoula abatement firm, but plans for cleanup were briefly put on hold last week while county officials considered the possibility of leaving the old carpet in place and simply covering it with new carpeting. The carpeting contractor advised against that approach, Pezzelle said.

"Trying to lay a new carpet on top of old carpet leaves you with a lot of lumps, undoable seams and a situation where the new carpet doesn't lay as it should," he said.

The library doesn't have enough funds in its budget to cover the cost of removing the tiles, Pezzelle said. The library board is working with the county commissioners on funding and will seek a loan from the county if the county is unable to pick up the cost, he said.