Asbestos removal begins at jail

ALPENA — Work to remove asbestos from areas in the Alpena County Jail will begin in the coming weeks, but it is still unknown if there is more or how much more there could be in the facility.

During the Alpena County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, Maintenance Superintendent Wes Wilder updated the commissioners on what is being done at the jail in terms of asestos removal. He also asked for between $2,000 and $3,000 to have an asbestos survey done to the rest of the sheriff’s deparment to see if there is more, where it is and if it is capable of going airborne and becoming a health issue.

“We found some in the tunnel, boiler room and in the flooring tile,” Wilder said. “A lot of areas in the jail have been tested, but since we are having some removed, it is best to have the rest of the building looked at and it will be cheaper to have it done now.”

Wilder said the project to remediate the asbestos from the jail is about $12,000. He said there could be an additional $5,000 to reinsulate pipes and do other repair work.

It is recomended that an asbesots survey be done on facilities periodically to see if there is any and if so it isn’t creating a health hazzard. Wilder said there has been occasions when the county was doing a project in one of its buildings and stumbled across asbestos, which delayed the project until it was removed. He said the survey will help to eliminate that hurdle because he will know where there is asbestos before a project begins.

“It may be a little expensive, but I think it is a good thing to have done,” Wilder said. “We have had to totally shut down projects in the past and wait for it to be taken out before we could resume. That costs us time and money.”

Because some of the county-owned buildings are older and asbestos was used in them, Wilder said it would be a good idea to have a survey done to all of them so there aren’t any surprises down the road. He said there are times where abestos is in a building, but it is not a risk to go airborne and can remain and monitored. Nevertheless he said he intends to propose doing more asbestos studies to the board of commissioners soon.

“This fall I will be asking for funds for surveys,” Wilder said. “I don’t know if we will be able to do them all at once because of the cost, but maybe we can spread them out a little. It is something that I think needs to be done though.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.