A phone call from a man visiting his longtime friend in Blacksburg, is what led me to this next story.
Terry McLoughlin said he was worried that a construction company might be burning contaminates like asbestos and lead paint in an open fire pit at a new development at the corner of Webb and Meadow Streets in Blacksburg.
We met at the site Friday morning around 11:45 a.m.. McLoughlin said he has a 40 year history in the construction business, including certification in the removal of asbestos and lead paint.
McLoughlin said he walked over to the site of the opening burning pit and didn't like what he saw.
"When I walked over here and saw the age of the buildings, built back in the 1960's, I knew that there had to be asbestos and lead paint residue still on this site," McLoughlin said.
I made a phone call to Blacksburg Deputy Town Manager, Steve Ross, who told me the town fire department issued the pit burn permit on July 18th.
Ross said that permit allowed the construction company to burn only brush, not any type of building materials at the job site. The actual burning, said Ross, began this past Monday morning, but 24 hours later, the town received complaints about the heavy smoke and ash falling on cars and businesses, including Moore's Body and Mechanical.
Kenny Moore, the business manager, told Ross that heavy ash was falling on cars all around his business and he didn't like it. Ross, in an emailed statement, wrote in part, that the fire department "informed the contractor of the concern, and required the burning of the brush be stopped."
McLoughlin said that the safest way to remove hazardous material from any site is to have it trucked away, never burned, no matter how small the fire pit is.
Ross, the deputy town manager, said the construction company removed all hazardous materials in a "specific manner which is monitored and tested by licensed professionals."
I asked Ross about the smoke I saw coming from the pit Friday morning, in the statement, Ross wrote that "What has been visible since the burning stopped is the pile of brush smoldering", not anything to do with asbestos.