Fort Bragg: Soldiers were exposed

December 10, 2008 5:38:57 AM PST
Late Tuesday afternoon, Fort Bragg officials held a press conference admitted up to 10 soldiers were unintentional exposed to asbestos while renovating a barracks storage room.Fort Bragg leaders say the soldiers worked in the room for 11 days --from late November through early December-- scraping and ripping up asbestos floor tiles and hauling them to a dumpster outside the building.

Commanders acknowledged the sergeant in charge of the renovations did not follow Army policy that requires building to be inspected before any demolition or renovations.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team Col. Mark Stammer says the soldiers were tested and none required medical treatment.

"Although the soldiers involved were never knowingly put in harm's way, when this matter was brought to our attention the command took quick and appropriate action to ensure the safety of our soldiers," Stammer said. "No hazardous levels of asbestos material were found in the air samples taken from the storage room or the surrounding area.

Officials say each of the 10 soldiers will be tested yearly.

They also say none of the 100 or so other soldiers who work and live in the barracks faces any potential exposure threat.

Commanders are still investigating the incident. They have yet to say if the sergeant who commanded the work detail will face any disciplinary actions.

Concerns about possible exposure came after one of the 10 soldiers' father, Evon Colchiski, said his son was ordered to rip up tiles in a store room in their barracks. Private lab testing showed the asbestos in the tiles was 25 times the EPA's toxic limit.

He says he's not trying to embarrass the 82nd Airborne, just trying to get them to move his son and other soldiers out of harm's way.

Colchiski says his son, Jason, was never given protective clothing of trained in asbestos removal.

Jason Colchiski sent a piece of the tile to his father who had it tested.

Evon Colchiski says lab test showed the level of asbestos in the tiles 25 times higher than the EPA's limit.

"This is a major health issue, that may not show up for 10, 20, 30 years and I'm going to have to live with my son if something happens down the road," Colchiski said.

In a YouTube statement a woman who identifies herself as Jason Cochiski's relative says the soldier's first Sgt. knew he was sending the soldiers into a potentially dangerous situation.

Click here to watch the YouTube video.

The barrack in question is similar to several barracks built in the 1950's on Fort Bragg.

This isn't the first time Fort Bragg's barracks have come under fire this year.

In April, the father of another 82nd Airborne soldier complained when his son's unit came home from combat.

They found broken and missing toilets, mold and other unsanitary living conditions.

The discovery prompted an Army-wide investigation into soldiers living conditions.


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