Each year, plenty of contractors all across Canada take on jobs both large and small, and some of them may come with some amount of environmental risk. Those companies that have been in operation for a long time may know quite well that it can be particularly important to have the right insurance coverage that will make sure certain financial protections are in place in the event that something goes wrong.
For instance, a situation in Southern Ontario recently arose that created potentially significant environmental risk as a result of a power plant’s planned implosion on the opposite side of the border, according to a report from the Port Huron (Michigan) Times-Herald. There was concern that the dust cloud which resulted from the implosion, which was conducted on Nov. 7, and then drifted across the St. Clair River to the area around Sarnia , might have contained asbestos.
More facts in this case
Indeed, the Marysville DTE power plant that was demolished was a coal plant that operated from 1922 to 2001, meaning that it was built and likely updated several times over before the harmful effects of asbestos were fully understood, the report said. It was finally decommissioned in 2011. However, a company went through and tried to remove all the asbestos in the building before the demolition, and those efforts were overseen by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an independent third party.
But Canadians on the other side of the river were concerned nonetheless, prompting the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to collect and test samples of that dust just to make sure everything was it should have been, the report said. And indeed, just a few weeks later, it announced that the samples were asbestos-free.
What’s the lesson here?
When dealing with issues of old buildings and even some new constructions, contractors may be extremely careful in handling environmental risks, but some concern is still likely to linger, the report said. As a result, it’s often better to be safe than sorry when trying to assess the environmental impact of any planned action. For example, even after the asbestos removal crews finished their job, the demolition experts sprayed everything down with water misters to ensure that dust from the implosion was as limited as possible.
“There’s always a concern in the back of your mind when you’re dealing with a 100-year building,” Marysville Public Safety Chief Tom Konik told the newspaper. “But we had quite a few checks and balances in place. I was pretty confident that it would be clean.”
“When purchasing a new building or location, purchasers should be aware of the previous use of the property as there may be hidden elements to the property that can arise at a later date and require costly remediation to rectify,” said Kent Pitkin National Director Commercial Lines at APRIL Canada. “With contractors brought into cleanup these situations, the onus falls on them to ensure that the site is cleaned up entirely and nothing is left behind.”
The more contractors can do to make sure they’re covering themselves in case of environmental exposure on the job, the better. But that same principle also applies to having the proper insurance to make sure that, if anything does happen to go wrong, contracting companies small or large will be adequately protected from the financial fallout.