Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Stoffa Is Doing About Asbestos

About a year ago, Northampton County Controller Steve Barron was sending emails to the EPA's Harry Boyer, asking him to do something about "the problems we've had ongoing with asbestos and lead paint abatement." Barron, in turn, was being fed information by Gracedale union official and safety committee member Ted Harris.

The EPA finally came in September, although the County has yet to receive a report. But two weeks ago, Ted Harris stood County Council, flatly declaring that "no one is doing anything" about asbestos and lead paint at the Courthouse. While standing there, basically calling his boss a murderer, Harris went on to claim he could fill Courtroom 1 with people who have complaints, but was advising them all to remain silent for fear of retaliation.

County Executive John Stoffa has responded to Barron and Harris with a written report to Council, in which he details the steps he's taken to test for and remediate asbestos throughout the County buildings. He also includes a list of the disbursements made by the County during 2011.

I spoke to Stoffa and his Director of Administration, Tom Harp, about the asbestos problem that is supposedly being ignored, and this is what I've learned.

1) Many of the complaints are from 8, 10 or even 15 years ago. - Harris and his Committee complain about doors at Gracedale that were cut in half, even though there was asbestos in them. What he fails to point out is that this occurred at least 8, and possibly as long as 15 years ago. The same is true of ACM material left behind a wall at Gracedale. That was 15 years ago. "Anybody who has a home built more than 30 years ago will have asbestos," noted Stoffa. "This place was built in 1861."

2) Over the past four years, Stoffa has spent $800,000 in taxpayer money for asbestos and lead paint testing and remediation. Last year alone, the County spent $432,800. "And we don't take it seriously?" asks Stoffa. "I don't know how much more we can do." There are 144 separate invoices. "There was a lot of work over the last year," notes Harp. "We're trying to do things the right way. Whatever happened 10 or 15 years ago, we're trying to do the right thing."

3) It will cost at least $200,000 to remediate the law library. The law library was remediated during Courthouse renovations started by Executive Glenn Reibman, but dust began appearing on the books. According to Harp, the County is investigating how that could have occurred.

4) The County has cooperated fully with the EPA. During his re-election campaign, Controller Steve Barron claimed that the County threw up a few roadblocks to slow down the EPA. That's not true, according to Tom Harp. He indicates that when the EPA came and asked to interview different people, he had to make sure they had that right, and asked for a legal opinion. As soon as that question was researched, the EPA was provided unfettered access.

5) There is no asbestos contamination in the DA's storage area.

6) It is no longer clear whether the County will be fined. Despite several requests, the County has received no report from the EPA. Ironically, their lab results might have been contaminated. "We are trying to do whatever they thought we should be doing," notes Stoffa.

7) No retaliatory action has been taken or planned against any County employee, including Harris. When he appeared before Council, Harris basically accused Stoffa of criminal negligence. Although Stoffa is concerned that Harris' accusation creates undue anxiety among County workers, he plans no disciplinary action against Harris or anyone else.

8) Training is underway. The County provides asbestos awareness training to O&M and custodial workers. It started in 2010 and continued in 2011.

9) Medical surveillance is under review. Stoffa is undecided whether the County should pay for "medical surveillance." He notes that at Penn State, that is afforded only to workers who actually do asbestos abatement.

"To say that we have been nonresponsive, as Mr. Barron and certain workers allege, lacks credibility," concludes Stoffa.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Harp is taking his Stoffa lackey position seriously. he has the standard Stoffa line down pat.

It was before us, it was Reibman's fault. If that is not enough it was Brackbill's fault. What do you want form us?
Yes sir, these boys ooze leadership.

The Stoffa Administration motto, "Who Me?"

Anonymous said...

"There is no asbestos contamination in the DA storage area"

we have a storage area for spare DA's?

whaddya we keep there? john morganelli replicants?

Anonymous said...

"It is no longer clear whether the County will be fined. Despite several requests, the County has received no report from the EPA. Ironically, their lab results might have been contaminated. "We are trying to do whatever they thought we should be doing," notes Stoffa. "

That is always great when you read about fines on a school district, county, local government whatever by the State or Feds. Who pays that? Me and the other taxpayers not the people who are not doing their jobs!!! What a joke.If there is an fine, the County Council, Executive, Controller all ought to be "surcharged"!! Oops, did I mention a very legal term that would start to ball rolling to have those responsible pay instead of the taxpayer? Look it up, it is possible.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what it will cost to clean out Martin Tower?

Anonymous said...

What business does a county controller have in this type of matter?

Anonymous said...

That's 134,000 a year or .04% of the county budget. Plus most of that money was spent in vain as we are still going to get fined. Color me unimpressed!

Anonymous said...

The problem is the Unions don't like Mr. Stoffa. Their motto, throw enough mud and hope some sticks.

$432,000 sounds like doing nothing to me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"we have a storage area for spare DA's?"

You got me. I'll insert a possessive in there to make it more clear.

risk of life said...

Most people in politics really could care less what infects our children. Warning the surgon general has determind that breathing in asbetos will cause death.

Anonymous said...

Cuckoo

Zorn said...

the union pukes are nothing but cry babies lead by a fool in a skirt

Anonymous said...

Thanks to this post, I won't have to spend time searching the dictionary for the meaning of the term 'one-sided'.

The only thing missing was a photo of Stoffa wearing a white hat.

Zorn said...

soffa doesn't need a white hat, all he has to do is be right - which is more than barron and company can accomplish

Anonymous said...

Stoffa has given union people huge raises and then turns and attacks them about not wanting to breath asbestos.

Then of course he has O'Hare covering his ass and deleting truthful comments. Nice deal.

Zorn said...

7:11

written like a true ungrateful union fool.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have posted Stoffa's side of the story. Two weeks ago, I posted what the union had to say.

Anonymous said...

It went from 49 or so comments to 16?

Bernie O'Hare said...

No. My previous blog entry had more. I don't recall deleting anything on this one.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, Maybe your memory is going, from all the asbestos you ingested in the law libray!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Or maybe you're just nuts.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the County employees who over the years witness the doors being cut up and was exposed to the dust flying around. I can tell you it was like it snowed inside the garage area one of the areas a certain supervisor told employees to cut the asbestos doors up. Also it was not 8 to 10 years ago it was up to 3 to 4 years ago. And yes at this time Asbetos was known in the building. So why was this done. Also the Asbestos behind the wall 14 years ago supervisor knew of it and admited it. It was put there by a contractor who was suppose of removed it. This supervisor knew it was there because he was told by another contactor who saw it.Again why was this done? The door were cut up then thrown in the garbage dumpster another ilegal move by said supervisor. Who by the way after breaking laws like he did is still a supervisor and employed by the County. So tell me this is not some kind of cover up.To this day as the County has Asbestos problems like the one now at Gracedale proper steps and legal steps are not being done. I feel its about time we get the DA involved and an all out investigation is done. I for one and I know of many more employees willing to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth swearing on the Bible. Is Stoffa and the supervisor who caused most of these issue's willing to do it too. If not then you probaly belive Bill Cliton when he said I did not have sex with thar girl!

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the County employees who over the years witness the doors being cut up and was exposed to the dust flying around. I can tell you it was like it snowed inside the garage area one of the areas a certain supervisor told employees to cut the asbestos doors up. Also it was not 8 to 10 years ago it was up to 3 to 4 years ago. And yes at this time Asbetos was known in the building. So why was this done. Also the Asbestos behind the wall 14 years ago supervisor knew of it and admited it. It was put there by a contractor who was suppose of removed it. This supervisor knew it was there because he was told by another contactor who saw it.Again why was this done? The door were cut up then thrown in the garbage dumpster another ilegal move by said supervisor. Who by the way after breaking laws like he did is still a supervisor and employed by the County. So tell me this is not some kind of cover up.To this day as the County has Asbestos problems like the one now at Gracedale proper steps and legal steps are not being done. I feel its about time we get the DA involved and an all out investigation is done. I for one and I know of many more employees willing to swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth swearing on the Bible. Is Stoffa and the supervisor who caused most of these issue's willing to do it too. If not then you probaly belive Bill Cliton when he said I did not have sex with thar girl!

Anonymous said...

Stoffa and his hacks love to claim every problem predated him. "oh the doors, that was done before me". He is a clown.

He has his favorites and they can stay and collect dust. He has people he doesn't like and they have been made to disappear.

He is the most incompetent man to ever hold that position. Stoffa wants employees to pay for their fighting him on Gracedale. You will be breathing that crap for the rest of his term.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, waiting for your response on 4:36 comment? Honestly

Bernie O'Hare said...

A comment posted at 4:36 PM on a Saturday, and you expect a response in 4 hours? You're not too demanding, are you.

Let's look at the comment. He is talking abut incidents that took place 12 years ago, for Christ's sake. How on earth does this translate into Stoffa doesn't care or is doing nothing?

As for the Supervisor, did he know 12 years ago what he knows now about asbestos? Should he be removed? Why is he not named?

It's no shock to me that there's asbestos in County buildings, as there is in most homes over 30 years old. There's little doubt in my mind that some supervisors were poorly educated about it 12 years ago, but they aren't now. If they have acted without regard to the welfare of both employees and the public, they should suffer the consequences. But that has not been established. And Stoffa's report makes very clear that he is taking this issue very seriously.

What I don't like is that the Controller injected himself into this issue and turned a matter of safety into a political issue.

Anonymous said...

You do jnot beleive the Controller acted in earnest cioncern. You are shameful. He tried to get Stoffa to do the right thing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Barron is an opportunist, and was even recognized as such by the Safety Committee.

Anonymous said...

BERNIE BEFOR EYOU SPEAK AND RESPONSE TO OTHER COMENTS DO SOME RESEARCH AND LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT ASBESTOS. ASBESTOS WAS A KNOW HAZARD BACK IN THE 70'S AND LAWS WERE PAST TO PROTECT PEOPLE FROM THE HAZARD OF ASBESTOS.ALSO THE ASBETOS BEHIND THE WALL WAS SUPPOSE TO OF BEEN REMOVED BY A CONTRACTOR WHO THREW IT BEHIND THE WALL INSTEAD. SO THE MAINT SUPERVISOR IN CHARGE THEN AND EVEN NOW WHEN TOLD ABOUT IT DID NOTHING TILL YEARS LATER WHENIT WAS BROUGHT UP TO OTHERS THE ISSUE ABOUT IT. THEN IS WAS HUSH HUSH AND HURRY AND GET IT OUT BUT DON'T LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT IT.AND TO THIS DAY ALL IS NOT TOLD ABOUT THE HAZARDS OF IT AND THE CONDITION OF THE AREAS IT IS IN.YES THE COUNTY WAS REMOVING ASBESTOS 14 YEARS AGO AND EVEN SO SUPERVISOR HAD EMPLOYEES CUT UP DOORS. YOU CAN'T SAY THEY DID NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT IT. IF THEY DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT THEN WHY WAS IT BEING REMOVED 14 YEARS AGO. ALSO A REPORT WAS DONE YEARS AGO AS TO AREAS IN COUNTY BUILDINGS WHERE THESE AREAS OF CONCERN WERE. SO WHY DID WE SIT ON THIS REPORT TILL SOME EMPLOYEES GOT A HOLD OF REPORT AND STARTED PUTTING THE PRESURE ON THE COUNTY TO TAKE CARE OF THESE AREAS.STOFFA WWAS TOLD BT SOME EMPLOYEES ABOUT THE CONCERNS ABOUT ASBESTOS AND IT NOT BEING REMOVED IN A TIMELY AND PROPER FASHION. ALL WE KEEP HEARING IS ABOUT HOW MUCH HE HAS DONE. YES A LOT HAS BEEN DONE BUT ONLY BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEES SPOKE UP ABOUT A REPORT DONE YEARS AGO AND PUT ON A SHELF AND FORGOTEN ABOUT TILL TWO OR THREE AGO. AT GRACEDALE NOW WE HAVE ISSUES AND ITS BEEN TESTED AND WAS FOUND TO CONTAIN ASBESTOS IN MAINT SHOP, LOADING DOCK AREA, GARAGE AREA STORE ROOM AREA AND HALLWAY LEADING TO THESE AREAS. ALL THESE AREAS ARE IN USE EVERY DAY WITH FOOD AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT PASSING THRU DAILY. WHO ARE YOU TO SAY IF ANY FOOD OR ANY TYPE OF EQUIPMENT AT SOME POINT DID NOT HAVE ASBESTOS DUST ON IT AND WAS MOVED TO OTHER AREAS OF THE BUILDING. NUMEROUS TEST HAVE BEEN PREFORMED IN THIS AREA IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS AFTER THE FIRST TEST THAT WERE PREFORMED. USUALLY IT TAKES 24HRS TO TWO DAYS TO GET THE RESULT. TO THIS DAY ALMOST TWO WEEKS LATER NO RESULTS AS OF YET. WERE ARE THEY? YOU TELL ME MR KNOW IT ALL!WE HAVE RECIEVED RESULTS BACK THAT WERE DONE AFTER THE GRACEDALE TEST IN 24 HRS. SO WEHERE ARE THE GRACEDALE RESULTS. NO THIS ISNT A COVER UP JUST A DUSTING JOB I GUESS.DOORS WERE CUT UP JUST 3 TO 4 YEARS AGO AND YES THE SUPERVISOR KNEW OF ASBESTOS AT THIS TIME. SO LET NOT PLAY THE DUMB GAME.ALL THE EMPLOYEES WANT IS TO HAVE THE REMOVAL DONE RIGHT AND IN A TIMELY FASHION AND THIS DOES NOT SEEM TO HAPPEN. SO LET HEAR YOU REPLY TO THIS LETTER BUT DO SOME THNKING FIRST BEFORE YOU SPEAK BECAUSE YOU NEED SOME FACTS TO RESPONSE THIS TIME NOT STOFFA AND THE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT COMMENTS.

Anonymous said...

WELL YOU DELETED MY LAST COMMENTS ON GRACEDALE FROM YESTERDAY. WELL GUESS WHAT THE EXTRA TEST FOR ASBESTOS TAKEN AT GRACEDALE CAME BACK THAT THERE IS MORE THAN THEY SAID BEFORE AND TEST ARE HIGHER IN PARTS PER MIL. IN THESE AREAS. NOW PUT THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT.SO I GUESS EMPLOYEES WERE RIGHT AGAIN. THIS WOULD OF NEVER BEEN TESTED IF NOT FOR THE MAINT SAFETY MEN CARING ABOUT ALL EMPLOYEES HEALTH.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa had the doors cut up and the place became infested with asbestos. When called on it, he blamed Reibman. Of course that is what he does on everything. This time he got caught in his lies.

Even O'Hare's protection couldn't hide the truth on this one.

Anonymous said...

Like i said before, a cover up gone wrong at the expense of county workers health. Sad, just to save face for their own political reputations. TYPICAL POLITICIANS. Once again the working man suffers at the expense of the big fat cats irresponsible decisions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Um given that the O&M who want to complain are given every opportunity to do so and given the fact that this is being investigated by the EPA,. it must be hard to claim cover up with a straight face.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Um given that the O&M who want to complain are given every opportunity to do so and given the fact that this is being investigated by the EPA,. it must be hard to claim cover up with a straight face.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Stoffa had the doors cut up "

I've spoken both to Harris and Seitz, the union safety committee members. The doors were cut up at least 8 and possibly as many as 15 years ago. Whoever was County Exec, it was NOT Stoffa.

Like Barron, you are spreading disinformation for political purposes, NOT because you give a shit about safety.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"WELL YOU DELETED MY LAST COMMENTS ON GRACEDALE FROM YESTERDAY"

Actually, I did not delete the ALL CAPS person, although I should have bc it is rude to post in ALL CAPS.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare stop the shit. The employees know damn well when the doors were cut up. They are not paid shills for Stoffa. It was no more than 6 years ago.

Your lies are just that, lies, supported by Stoffa shills.

Fortunately we have the truth and the proof. It is also with the EPA and another agency. Old Stoffa will find out soon enough.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are out of your mind, driven solely by hatred for Stoffa, with no regard for the county worker. Your goal is not safety, but to smear Stoffa.

Anonymous said...

Big cover up by Stoffa. The doors were chopped up during his term. The evidence has been sent to the state.

Bernie O'Hare said...

According to Harris, and Seitz, the two most vocal members of the O&M safety committee, your statement is a blatant lie. You don't give a shit about safety or the truth, nut will repeat lies over and over if you think it makes Stoffa look bad. You're nutz.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line,people knew and allowed us to work in these conditions. Those pricks should be held liable regardless of who it is.

Anonymous said...

What is the current asbestos situation at Gracedale? Is there concrete evidence of asbestos and are current employees currently working in these harsh conditions? Give us the truth!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Of course there's asbestos. It's just about everywhere, including your home. But nobody is working under "harsh" conditions, except maybe Stoffa, who has to endure daily attacks on his integrity.

Anonymous said...

Oh so now Stoffas office is located in an area where asbestos doors were cut in half? Wow, Stoffas down here with the rest of us. A man of his word. SO what you are saying is, Gracedale is currently safe working conditions? !

Bernie O'Hare said...

Why are you asking stupid questions when you already think you know all the answers. Go complain to the EPA and Steve Barron.

Anonymous said...

Just want to know what the man with ''all the answers'' has to say on this subject. And yes I am aware that all households 30.yrs. or older have asbestos. That is not the issue. The issue is the asbestos doors were cut inside the facility with knowledge of asbestos inside the doors, with no repurcussions, and now we are made to work under these ''harsh conditions''.BULLSHIT

Bernie O'Hare said...

So quit and sue.

Anonymous said...

Cover up by management, and their bosses! Should be held accountable.