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June 23, 2015 – Rantoul Press, By Dave Hinton

RANTOUL — A cleanup operation of asbestos-containing materials and other hazardous substances has begun in White Hall on the former Chanute Air Force Base.

The contractor, CB&I Federal Services of Greenville, S.C., started cleanup operations in sections N and M — the domed area on the east side of the building, formerly used as the cafeteria, comprising about 41,000 square feet.

Worker removing asbestos tile from a wall
Worker removing asbestos tile from a wall
A door framing section is removed at White Hall. Fire doors are among the items that contain asbestos that are being removed from the building prior to its demolition. (Rantoul Press)

The company was awarded a $7.892 million contract for the project.

Paul Carroll, Base Realignment and Closure environmental coordinator for the former air base, said all of the used tires within the building have been removed and sent to a tire-recycling facility.

Asbestos-containing materials to be removed include about 292,000 square feet of floor tiles, thermal system insulation, including duct and tank insulation, fire doors, ceiling and wall materials and roofing materials.

Other items that must be removed and disposed of prior to demolition include lead-based paint, light bulbs and fixtures, light ballasts, equipment that contains mercury such as thermostats and sprinkler heads, batteries and transformers.

Asbestos abatement in the first section should be complete within about a month. Then it’s on to the next section.

The abatement-demolition process will proceed in phases. Several sections of White Hall will be cleared of hazardous material before demolition will begin on those sections.

A total of seven sections of White Hall will be cleared of material.

Demolition on the first section of the complex is expected to begin in September.

During the first few months of the abatement, residents of the area should see little activity.

“Fencing has already been installed around the perimeter of the site,” Carroll said.

“The abatement work is nearly all interior, so residents will likely see only minor activity during the first few months.”

The site is placed under negative air pressure during the asbestos-removal process, and workers are monitored.

Accelerated testing is done to make sure the interior is clean.

Howard Sparrow, CB&I project manager, said the asbestos content is monitored, and dust suppression systems are used, including wetting down material. Large concrete portions will be hauled away and crushed offsite.

Carroll said when the demolition begins, large excavation equipment, loaders and semi trucks will be brought to the site.

“Work along the west side of White Hall will be minimized to the extent possible to prevent disruption to residents on that side,” Carroll said.

“Truck traffic from the construction area will be routed to minimize the impact to the village, and restricted to major highways and non-residential streets.”

This isn’t the first major asbestos abatement project on the former base. Asbestos was removed from the old steam plant, which was demolished just a few blocks from White Hall. That project was completed in 2014.

Carroll said that while White Hall is a much larger building than the steam plant, the asbestos-containing materials process is “not as complex as it was on (the steam plant) project.”

“Related to cost, this project is similar to the recent steam plant demolition project or the capping of Landfill 4 on the southeast portion of the former Chanute Air Force Base,” Carroll said.

“Our contractors have extensive experience with projects of this magnitude.”

White Hall was last used by the Air Force in 1993 when the base closed and has sat relatively vacant since then.

While White Hall will soon be no more, it will live on in several respects.

CB&I will retain the main entry doorway and other arched doorways for future use by the village.

And more than 90 percent of the materials from the building’s demolition are planned for recycling.


The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.