Ah, Ah, Ah-Don't Touch That Stuff!

Charles R. Travis, 32ΓΈ Secretary,
The Boulder Masonic Association, Inc.
2205 Broadway Boulder, Colorado 80306-7392

Remember the old radio program admonishing you not to touch the dial? It was on the air about the time some Lodges were constructing their buildings or making improvements to them with materials which at that time were in common use, like the "A" word, Asbestos.

It all started innocently enough on April 5, 1945, when the Masonic Temple in Boulder, Colorado, burned. The Boulder Lodges and York Rite Bodies got together, found a better site, built a new building, and made sure it was fireproof.

The steam boiler, from the old Alba Dairy in town, was set in place and the building erected around it. With the boiler came state-of-the-art air conditioning, pneumatic thermostat controls, and asbestos.

After 45 years of service, with considerable nursing in later years, the old boiler failed in May 1990. Quite wisely, the Boulder Masonic Association had been tucking away a portion of its rental income for repairs and replacements as the building aged. So it had the funds needed for the job. But, because he wasn't a licensed asbestos remover, the contractor, who had installed the old boiler many years ago, wouldn't put in the new one until the covering around the old boiler and its attendant pipes were removed.

The Association hired a company to remove the covering and was informed that the material did not contain enough asbestos to require compliance with the stringent safety requirements of the Colorado Department of Health, especially something called Regulation 8. In June 1990 the material was removed without the required state permits.

In early July the Colorado Department of Health learned of the removal, immediately sealed the boiler room, and conducted laboratory tests which revealed the presence of significant levels of asbestos.

Upon learning this, the Association immediately had a licensed asbestos abatement company complete the clean-up to the satisfaction of the state authorities. In September 1990, the state issued a notice of violation of its asbestos removal standards and imposed a significant fine. Then in January 1991, the Air Pollution Control Division issued a Notice of Determination and Penalty to the Association as a result of eight violations of laws:

  • Company not a certified asbestos abatement contractor

  • Supervisor on site not state certified

  • Persons performing asbestos abatement were not properly trained

  • Notification not provided to the Air Pollution Control Division

  • Air Pollution permit not obtained

  • Improper work practices

  • Clean air monitoring not performed

  • Improper handling and disposal of waste.

Today, there is a new boiler in the stately sandstone Masonic building in Boulder, but the Association might well have saved thousands of dollars in penalties and legal fees if it had taken some precautions and had been more aware of that fatal "A" word, Asbestos.