Bids sought to raze CCMH

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton city government will begin accepting sealed bids next week to remove asbestos and demolish the old Carter County Memorial Hospital building.
   Bids will be accepted through July 16 in the city's office of planning and development. The city government budgeted approximately $500,000 as part of a $1.25 million capital outlay in the 2005 budget to raze the hospital building.
   "The asbestos removal will take a while to do," David Ornduff, city director of planning and development said on Friday.
   The city government bought the hospital at public auction on Nov. 21, 2002 for $71,242.75 covering the real property taxes owed to city and county governments by former owner Wayne Graybeal. The city took possession of the property in February 2003 and assumed full possession one year later when Graybeal did not pay off taxes and penalties as was his right under the condemnation proceeding.
   The 96,000 square-foot hospital building sits on a 5.4-acre tract of property located on West G Street. Construction on the four-story original hospital building began in the late 1950s. The hospital opened in August 1959. The three-story addition connected to the hospital was built in 1971.
   Whether $500,000 can cover both demolition and removal of asbestos may not be known until bids are opened. A major cost to the project could come in the form of asbestos removal.
   The SM&E environmental services company surveyed the building for the presence of asbestos earlier this year. Company representatives investigated the entire structure, the addition and boiler room as well as the building's doors and pipes, Ornduff said.
   The state's Department of Environment and Conservation requires persons involved with the removal of Regulated Asbestos-Containing Material (RACM) during facility renovation or demolition to file a notification with the department's Division of Air Pollution Control. A notification is required for the removal, renovation and demolition of asbestos where quantities exceed 260 linear feet or more on pipes, 160 square feet or more on other facility components, or 35 cubic feet or more off facility components where the length or area could not be measured previously.
   "We will qualify those bidders when they submit the bids with the TDEC," said Ornduff. "It will be monitored by TDEC and certain requirements to do that. You have to get the required permits and assure they are capable of performing the work."
   TDEC regulations identify RACM as any material containing more than 1 percent asbestos, including friable asbestos material, asbestos-containing packing, gaskets, resilient floor covering and roofing products containing more than 1 percent asbestos material.
   All asbestos materials must be removed and disposed of before the building is demolished.
   The use of asbestos material used in construction greatly increased during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of American workers were exposed to asbestos fibers. In the 1960s and 1970s, federal health officials began linking asbestos exposure to increased rates of lung cancer among a cross section of workers exposed to materials containing the fiber.
   Concerns over health risks posed by high exposures to airborne asbestos brought on the decline of asbestos use. Many companies ceased production of asbestos products because of liability issues. Commercial products such as asbestos-containing insulation, plasters, ceiling tiles, cement products, and caulks were slowly phased out.
   The city and county maintained joint ownership of the hospital until the mid-1980s when the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) approached local leaders about building a private hospital in Carter County that became Sycamore Shoals Hospital. The hospital was effectively abandoned after Sycamore Shoals Hospital was completed in 1986.