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Patrick Springer, Published August 25 2010

Cass now accepting bids to rid asbestos

Cass County commissioners unanimously gave the go-ahead Tuesday to seek bids to remove asbestos from a crawl space beneath the old courthouse.

The asbestos, which wraps old steam pipes, must be removed before tests can be performed on ground beneath the building

The asbestos abatement is expected to cost more than $100,000, County Engineer Keith Berndt told commissioners.

By declaring the work an emergency, bids can be in hand more quickly, so the project can be expedited, he said. The asbestos is in a contained area, and does not pose a health risk to county employees or the public, officials said.

When the asbestos is safely removed, seismic tests can be performed to determine if areas need to be filled to prevent deterioration of timber pilings that support the building.

Two such spots were already found, but Berndt said it would be good to test to see if there are other areas that can’t be detected visually.

A concrete slurry can be pumped in to fill any voids.

Altogether, including asbestos removal and testing, the project should cost “in the $300,000 area,” County Administrator Bonnie Johnson said.

The work is unrelated to the $14.7 million west addition to the courthouse now under construction.

“I don’t see any alternative,” County Commissioner Scott Wagner said, noting the work is needed to insure the stability of the building.

Commissioner Vern Bennett agreed, and said the issue should have been addressed years ago.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522