St. Louis, June 28, 2005 — Praxair Distribution, Inc. announced this evening that as a result of the fire at the company's facility at 2210 Chouteau Avenue, St. Louis, MO last Friday night, asbestos has been found in the ashes lying on the ground at the plant and in some intact pieces of debris outside the plant. All tests for airborne asbestos and other potentially hazardous substances conducted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have been at acceptable levels. Asbestos is not hazardous to human health unless it is airborne.
A number of tests conducted by the DNR since the fire have shown the debris on the ground at the company's facility contains ashes, carbon silicate and asbestos. Carbon silicate and asbestos are used inside acetylene cylinders, many of which were destroyed in the fire. Use of asbestos in acetylene cylinders ceased in 1985. Praxair does not manufacture cylinders.
The traces of asbestos lying on the ground are not considered hazardous.
Clean-up crews have removed the debris on the plant site, except in areas that are still considered unsafe by the St. Louis Fire Department and Praxair. The nearby street and pavements have been cleaned also.
Tests in the surrounding neighborhood within three blocks of the plant were conducted last night (June 27) by the Haz-Mat teams and the results today showed levels of asbestos in debris found in four locations on the streets and sidewalks.
As a result, beginning about 8 p.m. tonight, clean-up crews from two Haz-Met teams will begin removing all debris in these areas using special vacuum equipment as well as other sweeping equipment. For personal protection, the crews will be wearing respirators and protective garments. With the permission of the home owner the crews will also clean the grounds and other exterior areas of residents’ properties and cars wherever fire debris is found.
During the clean-up additional airborne testing will be conducted. No airborne test results received to date have indicated any hazard to human health. The crews expect to complete the neighborhood clean-up by noon tomorrow.