Global Asbestos Congress 2004

Case Study: Former Caseros Prison - First Asbestos Removal Project In Argentina

Susana Mühlmann
Architect, Asbestos Removal Procedures and Legal Aspects Technical Advisor, Government of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Abstract and Introduction
In 1999, the Government of Buenos Aires City decided to decommission and demolish Caseros Prison, a 21 story-high concrete construction located in the City, inside a residential area with some small factories and only one block away from the National Paediatrics Hospital.

Empty since 2000, the building was programmed to be demolished one year later, however, it is still standing.

A division of the Army, a Battalion of Engineers with expertise on explosives, was commissioned to blow-up the jail in 2001, but just before the demolition attempt, asbestos was discovered in the cellars by Inspectors from the Ministry of Health together with a German expert and, because of that, the City authorities stopped the planned, massive implosion.

Subsequently, in accordance with the City Government's environmental policy, it was decided that, despite the lack of local standards, the asbestos would be removed using safe procedures.

It was necessary to: work on a basic legal framework and new documentation; explain again and again the basis of the asbestos procedures to all the people involved (from members of the Government to neighbours); give training to a branch of the Army specializing in biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies; call on a diversity of specialists; estimate budgets on tasks never done before.

It took two more years and extensive teamwork among civilians and the military, public and private organisations, and local and international advisors, to bring this project to fruition.

The aim of this presentation is, then, to show how the Government of Buenos Aires City, together with all the institutions and individuals involved and with the invaluable assistance of international experts, adjusting step by step foreign standards to the Argentinean reality, was able to develop a large-scale asbestos removal project, fulfilling all required security measurements and procedures, and establishing the legal and technical background to develop local regulations.

Asbestos detection

Preliminary work

Since, in Argentina there were no local standards for safe procedures ensuring personal and environmental protection during installed asbestos removal work, the techniques adopted for the former Caseros Prison were based on standard procedures used in technologically developed countries like Germany and the USA.

At this point it is important to mention the freely-given and continuous advice, in person, as well as via telephone and online, received from experienced international experts on asbestos treatments. We want to express our deep thanks both for sharing their knowledge with us, and for their support and enthusiasm for this project. They are:

The Plan for Removal included a wide variety of technical aspects and a budget affordable for the Government of Buenos Aires City, and as soon as it was ready, the following detailed procedures commenced.

Installed asbestos removal procedures

Pre-occupational medical tests and training

Working area preparation

Semi permanent constructions

Removed asbestos treatment

Air sampling: concentration of suspended asbestos fibers

End of removal works and dismantling of the semi permanent constructions

Environmental monitoring

Environmental monitoring to check the concentration of airborne asbestos fibers has two objectives:
1) To control the environment the workers are exposed to.
2) To determine when a job is finished.

Removal, transportation and final disposal

Mechanical demolition of two basements, ground floor and 1st floor at the Former Caseros Prison. Included: spilt Fuel Oil cleaning and Installed Asbestos Removal.
Argentinean Army on agreement with the Government of Buenos Aires City.

Installed Asbestos Removal Project:

Asbestos Removal Works - Argentinean Army & Aircon 88,100
Air Monitoring - Toxicological Research Centre 10,873
Transportation - Chemical Solutions 5,923
Final Disposal - CEAMSE 1,091
Total: 105,987
Execution time: (from June 30 to August 22, 2003) 60 days