Asbestos discovered at site of Georgetown fire - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Asbestos discovered at site of Georgetown fire

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The SC Department of Environmental Control has discovered some asbestos in the debris at the Georgetown fire site.

Tee Miller is the economic development director for the City of Georgetown. He says that before the facades of the buildings on Front Street were torn down, DHEC tested the material for asbestos. "In that study, they found a small trace of roofing felt (with asbestos) in from of one of the buildings… something that exceeded the one percent threshold." Miller said they also found asbestos in some tile in one of the buildings, but the roofing felt is the main concern.

News 2 first told you about concerns related to what might be in the debris back in September. Right after the fire, a portion of the debris was moved to a city-owned lot that is right next to houses in a neighborhood.

Harriet Hunt lives near the lot. She said, "I'm concerned for my health. I'm concerned for the value of our property being down."

Miller and other city officials say there is good news about the debris that was taken to that lot. Miller said, "ATF and SLED removed (it.) It was all examined. It was… completely examined for asbestos, which it came back negative."

But why did it take DHEC this long to determine that there was asbestos in the buildings and notify the property owners?

Miller says even as an owner of one of the properties himself, he doesn't know the answer to that question. "I'm not really sure… as property owner… I'm actually a property owner as well. On Friday we learned this from DHEC."

Miller says some of the property owners were getting ready to do something with the debris. That is when DHEC told them a second survey of the debris needed to be done.

Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville tells News 2, "There was a meeting held Monday. At that point, that is when they told us they wanted some additional testing to be done."

Scoville says there is no danger to the public.

Governor Nikki Haley even mentioned the asbestos in her remarks in Georgetown on Tuesday. "We still got to look at what happens with the asbestos. That's part of the process."

Mayor Scoville says minor asbestos is not out of the question when dealing with historic buildings that have had work done on them over the years. "Nothing's been brought to our attention that indicates there is an excessive amount or troubling amount. So hopefully the tests will prove that and we can more forward."

News 2 contacted DHEC to get more information. We also filed a Freedom of Information Act request. We will bring you that information once DHEC releases it.

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