AUGUSTA, Maine — State agencies are waiting for test results for asbestos in the Maine State Archives after two small chunks of ceilings fell in different areas of the building.
According to Maine State Archivist David Cheever, one piece fell from the second-floor ceiling. Another fell from Museum ceiling on the fourth floor.
Neither of the areas are open to typically open to the public. Cheever said they are confident that the pieces of ceiling that fell contain asbestos, because the ceiling was sprayed with a flame retardant containing the cancer-causing material when the building was built 48 years ago.
Now, staff are waiting on the results of atmospheric testing to determine if any dust containing asbestos traveled into the ductwork.
“We’re not putting anyone’s health in danger,” said Cheever. “We take this seriously. We are dealing with it seriously. We will handle it seriously.”
Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s asbestos point of contact, Sandy Moody said “any potential danger is very minimal.”
Maine's Department of Administrative and Financial Services has developed and implemented a plan to address the existing asbestos, according to spokesperson David Heidrich.
"The plan is to remediate it as quickly as possible, keeping employees and visitors safe at all times," Heidrich wrote in an e-mail.
The portion of the second floor is restricted to employees now as well, unless the employee decides they are comfortable entering the area, said Cheever.
“We let patrons know that material they may request from the second floor may not be accessible,” Cheever said.
He said the second floor will remain closed until the test results come back. They are planning a meeting on February 20 to discuss how to handle the situation.
“We are taking all precautions to make sure no one is put at risk, public or employees,” said Cheever.
Cheever and Moody said an outside company did the testing.
“All of the proper steps have been taken. No one is at risk that we know of. The area in questions was, in effect, quarantined, closed off to find out what it is,” said Cheever.