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Abatement procedures underway

GATESVILLE – A recent concern by the North Carolina Department of Labor has led Gates County officials to launch a process that will rid several county-owned buildings of lead-based paint and small amounts of asbestos.

That work was scheduled to get underway last week.

“After concern was raised for the one building, the commissioners proactively had a survey completed on multiple buildings owned by the county,” said Gates County Manager Toby Chappell. “The results showed that the vast majority of the buildings were in great shape and there were no concerns of lead and/or asbestos.”

Chappell said minor problems were identified in two buildings while somewhat more significant problems were found in two others.

Two window seals and one handrail were found to have lead-base paint in the newly renovated County Administration Building. At the same building, windows were found to have asbestos in the exterior caulking, an area where individuals would not have reasonable access to, according to Chappell.

One of the county’s Water Plant buildings was found to have lead-based paint on one metal pole. The audit also presumed that asbestos was present on a vibration dampener, a device that neither the public nor the water plant workers have access.

The EIC Building and the Gates County Public Library were found to have more significant amounts of lead-based paint. Chappell said that paint was primarily found on windows and window seals at both locations.

A specialty firm, The Davis Company Inc. of Williamston, performed a wet-wipe cleaning two weeks ago to remove the dust particles in the library.

On Oct. 26, that company was awarded a contact to perform the entire abatement process for all buildings identified in the audit.

Chappell added that amounts of lead-base paint and asbestos were found in several other areas, but all were deemed “intact” and do not require any action at this time. However, county staff will develop a program to monitor these areas in order to ensure they have not become concerning.

The abatement work is expected to take one month.

County officials are not anticipating the closure of any of the buildings where the work is being performed. Certain portions of those buildings, particularly the library, may have to be sectioned off from the public during the process.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our citizens, but we are trying to rectify these problem areas once and for all,” Chappell concluded.