Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY ; Coliseum Closed as Precaution; Workers Performing Renovations on 46- Year-Old Building Found Material That May Contain Asbestos

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY ; Coliseum Closed as Precaution; Workers Performing Renovations on 46- Year-Old Building Found Material That May Contain Asbestos

Article excerpt

The West Virginia University Coliseum in Morgantown was closed Friday after workers renovating the structure found some material that may contain asbestos. In university news releases, John Principe, WVU's director of environmental health and safety, said the Coliseum was closed immediately "so that we can assess the situation properly. He said contractors and athletic department staff were in the building at the time.

Principe and several of his subordinates didn't return the Gazette-Mail's requests for comment late Friday afternoon.

WVU spokesman John Bolt said the concourse area ringing the Coliseum arena has been undergoing renovations since shortly after the final men's basketball home game March 2, with the hope the concourse would be ready for the start of the next basketball season this fall. A March WVU news release said the arena itself would be unaffected during this renovation phase.

Bolt said he didn't immediately know the exact kind of material that may contain asbestos.

"I'm still trying to get confirmation on how widespread it might be, he said. He said Principe called him about the issue between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, though he didn't know who initially discovered the material.

"The suspect asbestos-containing material discovered Friday was encapsulated in an inaccessible area above ceilings in entrances to the restrooms ringing the concourse, and did not pose a health hazard to any individuals within the building, Principe stated in a news release. He stated it was only exposed by the renovation work.

Asbestos is a generic term for six naturally occurring fibrous materials that were commonly used in buildings because they are resistant to heat and most chemicals. Breathing asbestos can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, an incurable and fatal form of cancer that develops in the chest cavity and encases and grows into the lungs.

Typically, asbestos in old buildings in the United States - the Coliseum is 46 years old - is left alone unless it begins to deteriorate into fibers that can be inhaled.

Bolt said late Friday afternoon that a Pittsburgh lab is testing the material, and that WVU hopes to have results from the test by the end of the day today. …

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