Hospital project starts in earnest

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  The first step in demolition of the Carter County Memorial Hospital building began Thursday with a chain link fence put up around the four-story building to prepare for the massive project, which could take up to six months to complete.
  Workers with the J & S Fence Company began installing a fence around the hospital property Thursday morning. The fence will surround the building and be secured for the D.H. Griffin Company, which begin razing the building later this year.
  City Director of Planning and Development David Ornduff said Thursday the project would include considerable oversight for the removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) located inside the building. He said air quality would be monitored while the asbestos was being removed.
  "That will take between 90 and 120 days," Ornduff said. "When that is completed, actual demolition of the building will begin."
  All asbestos materials must be removed and disposed of before the building is demolished. The bagged ACMs would be transported to the Iris Glen landfill in Johnson City for disposal.
  "Each truck that transports the material will be covered with tarp," he said.
  The Environmental Protection Agency requires an asbestos survey to identify interior and exterior asbestos materials in a building prior to demolition. The S&ME Inc. environmental services firm surveyed the building for ACMs earlier this year.
  Asbestos-containing materials are primarily found in insulation concentrated around the boiler system and water pipes throughout the hospital, according to the survey.
  Elizabethton City Council voted in September to approve the low bid of $535,800 submitted by the D.H. Griffin company of Abingdon, Va., to raze the building. The deconstruction project includes removal of asbestos-containing materials from the hospital, a "grease pit" as described by Ornduff, which includes an underground diesel fuel tank on the property as well as the building.
  Ornduff also said soil displaced by removal of the fuel tank would also be tested and disposed of if results reveal it is contaminated with any substance. Fill dirt would then be hauled in and compacted at the site. The fill dirt will also be tested for cleanness and density, he added.
  Ornduff said the city's contract gave the company 180 days to remove asbestos-containing materials and demolish the structure. The bid price comes with a 20 percent contingency - roughly $107,160 - to cover project cost overruns. The entire project should be completed by April 2005.
  "Since the bulk of the work will be done during the winter, we wanted to give the contractor ample time," Ornduff said.
  The City Council appropriated $485,000 under a capital outlay note to fund demolition of the building. The city paid $71,242 to purchase the hospital at a public auction in November 2002. The property was auctioned after the former owner failed to pay delinquent real property taxes owed the city.