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Part of old Booker School demolished; hazardous materials found

By Walter Geiger Word leaked out at last week’s county commission meeting about demolition work underway at the old Booker School/Barnesville Primary School campus off Forsyth Street in Barnesville. Individual commissioners expressed concerns over asbestos building materials and rampant mold in the buildings that were built in 1930 and have long been abandoned. They had asked the state for a phase two environmental study of the property several years ago but the state never complied. Parts of the campus were last used as an armory and the property is still owned by the Georgia National Guard which bought it in 1989. The 26-acre property has a tax value of $1,532,506 but the state does not pay Lamar County property taxes. There was some talk of using SPLOST money to refurbish the school but that plan has been deemed unfeasible and abandoned. The former office/lunchroom area of the campus had been the site of multiple arson fires in recent months. Neighbors noted demolition equipment in the area in recent days and that building is now gone. Whomever is demolishing it had no permit from the City of Barnesville and no certificate allowing it to dump materials at the local landfill when the work started. ‘We have not been able to catch them on the site. The state’s insurance company hired the contractor to remove the building that was partially burned. It is the only building included,’ city manager Kenny Roberts said Sept. 21. It is known that the floor tiles in the building are asbestos and there likely are other hazardous materials at the site, either in the buildings or the soil. For that reason, Johnny Poore of the solid waste authority is watching with a wary eye. ’We told the contractor who was supposed to haul the demolition waste that, in order to accept anything from there, we would have to be provided the documentation that the asbestos and any other hazardous materials have been remediated by approved, certified companies. We have not heard back from them yet and no waste will be coming here without acceptable, approved documentation. Improper handling could be deadly to any who are in close proximity, especially my people,’ Poore said Sept. 21. By week’s end, Poore had identified the asbestos removal contractor as Certified Environmental Professionals LLC of Fairburn and the waste hauler as Ironstone Environmental of Stone Mountain. Records show that, from the one building demolished, over five tons of hazardous materials was disposed of at Caruthers Mill C& D Landfill in Monroe, Ga. on Sept. 8. Meanwhile, the demolition company still has no permit from the City of Barnesville. ’We will continue to visit the site and require a demolition permit and certification of the proper handling and disposal of material containing asbestos,’ Roberts concluded.

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