Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint Abatement

At 35 stories high, the twin-spire skyscraper at 909 Walnut Street is one of Kansas City’s most enduring examples of Art Deco architecture. Constructed in 1931, it was judged the year’s best-designed commercial building. In later years, the historic structure eventually fell into disuse, plagued by safety issues. A development firm saw new potential for the landmark building, which it planned to convert into apartments and condominiums. Toward this goal, NorthStar (formerly NCM)  was contracted to demolish and remove all of the building’s interior structures and materials, including the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems as well as duct work, plaster ceilings, carpeting and floor tiles, modular walls, lighting, and other architectural components. NorthStar’s charge also included abatement of all thermal asbestos in mechanical, air conditioning, and heating systems; piping; flooring; and lighting materials, as well as the removal of flaking, lead-based paint.

Description of Work:

The large-scale project demanded an aggressive schedule and close coordination with other on-site contractors to meet the developer’s tight schedule – five months from start to finish – while preserving all historically significant materials for reuse. At the height of the project, NorthStar had some 60 people on site working round-the-clock in multiple shifts.

Asbestos: Asbestos abatement was performed from the top floor to the bottom. Work included removal of 1½ miles of interior and perimeter piping, which was treated with a wetting solution as it was removed, then double bagged in six-mil polyethylene bags and transported to an EPA-approved landfill. NorthStar also removed and bagged about 275,000 square feet of VAT (Vinyl Asbestos Tile) flooring and associated mastic adhesive, as well as the concrete substrate flooring throughout the building.

Lead: After meeting all required environmental controls, including the use of poly drop cloths on each floor and personal protection gear for workers, NorthStar experts then removed lead-based paint flakes from affected walls using hand scrapers. Afterwards, workers wiped down the wall surfaces with a lead-dissolving solution. All third-party clearance sampling for both lead and asbestos passed on the first round. The NorthStar crew also removed and bagged more than 3,000 fluorescent lamp ballasts containing PCBs and other mercury-filled light fixtures, recycling other lamps for future use.

Demo: The non-hazardous wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling demolition work came next. Workers ripped out and removed 250,000 square feet of carpeting; 260,000 square feet of plaster ceilings; 240,000 2′ x 4′ drop- ceiling tiles; 175,000 square feet of interior wall partitions, as well as all concrete masonry walls, sheet rock, and stud walls. The construction debris was loaded into 650 steel roll-off containers and then hauled to a local landfill for disposal.