In New Mexico, Missouri, a brick factory that operated continuously from 1908 through 2002 under the name A. P. Green Refactories is being given a new lease on life under the Mid America Brick and Structural Clay Products, LLC corporate umbrella thanks to remediation tax credits of up to $1,379,477 under the Brownfield Development Program.
This program, administered through the Missouri Department of Economic Development, under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which also provides non-voluntary site remediation under the Superfund program.
Once the factory is up and running, it could bring at least 100 jobs to the community, but not until the asbestos – the major contaminant at the old factory – is removed.
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral mined and made into hundreds of products during most of the last century. Typical products are insulative, but can also include resilient floor tiles, vinyl sheet flooring or backing, adhesives used to install floor tiles, the insulation made of cement sheet, millboard, and paper used around furnaces and wood-burning stove door gaskets, sprayed soundproofing or decorative material on walls and ceilings, patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings, cement roofing, shingles, and siding, fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers, hairdryers and automobile brake pads, linings, clutch facings and gaskets.
Asbestos, when disturbed, releases microscopic fibers that, inhaled, can irritate lung tissue and lead to persistent inflammatory lesions. These lesions can, in turn, cause a very specific and highly lethal form of cancer called peritoneal mesothelioma, which health experts call a “ticking time bomb”.
It takes from two to five decades for the symptoms of mesothelioma to show up, but once diagnosed, patients are seldom given more than a year to live.
Asbestos exposure as low as 2 parts-per-million (ppm) can trigger lesions, and asbestos is most dangerous during removal, when the fibers are released by inadvertently breaking or tearing asbestos-containing materials.
The original factory on the site, A.P. Green Fire Brick Co., made fire brick, which is standard clay mixed with asbestos to create a brick with such extreme heat resistance that it can be used in the steel industry. As a result, the building and much of the soil around it is contaminated with asbestos.
Thanks to the $1,379,477 Brownfield Development Program remediation grant, the property can be repurposed to make decorative brick and brick fascia products for the construction industry, this time without dangerous asbestos.
The project has also qualified for a $1-million Action Fund Loan from the Community Development Block Grant program to help provide machinery and equipment for the new plant, as well as working capitol until the first load of bricks is sold.
The new factory is expected to be operational in about a year and a half.
Sources: Mexico, MO Ledger, KBIA