Mold removal work begins at Apple Valley townhouse

10:58 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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  • Interior of moldy townhouse in Apple Valley
  • Demolition dumpsters outside moldy townhouse
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  • Original KARE story on moldy townhouse
  • Minnesota Dept. of Health Indoor Mold page
  • APPLE VALLEY, Minn. -- Demolition work is underway at a mold-infested townhouse in this Twin Cities suburb, but nearby residents remain wary about how the debris was handled.

    Neighbors contacted KARE in June, after waiting for weeks to see something done about the vacant, foreclosed town home, one of four units in a quiet neighborhood near Apple Valley High School.

    "The mold was covering the floor and the walls and the ceiling," Theresa Plaszcz recalled. "We figured somebody would be out right away once they figured out what was going on, but it took months for them to get out here."

    A water leak that went undetected for weeks, combined with an early spring heat wave, created the humid conditions that sparked the growth of the mold on the interior walls. Dakota County's environmental health specialist posted a no-entry sign on the unit in May.

    Dakota County and the City of Apple Valley worked behind the scenes with the Bank of America, which bought the townhouse at a Sheriff's foreclosure sale in January. The bank eventually hired a contractor from Nebraska City, Nebraska, which started work Saturday.

    "They popped the windows open," neighbor Scott Graham told KARE. "They were throwing things out of the second floor window. Dust and debris would go flying every time." 

    The crew took the interior walls down to the studs, and sprayed them with Kilz, an odor-killing, stain-resistant primer paint.  The workers filled two rented dumpsters with demolition debris, some of it still covered in mold.

    "They tore out all the drywall, but they didn't bag anything," Graham remarked. "It had to be full of mold. You could even see them bring out pieces of drywall, that were obviously still wet."

    Neighbors called Dakota County and the City of Apple Valley codes enforcement to complain, but those lines weren't staffed on Saturday.  By Monday morning inspectors had returned, and asked to contractor to haul away the dumpsters by the end of the day.

    "Ideally they should've bagged the moldy debris," Apple Valley codes inspector Ben Pierson told KARE. "But the point of that is generally to keep from contaminating other parts of the house. In this case that's not an issue."

    Pierson also said the dumpsters should've been covered once they were filled, as an added precaution. But, as far as he knew, neighbors weren't exposed to any harmful concentrations of mold.

    Dale Dorschner, an air quality specialist at the Minnesota Department of Health, agreed with Pierson. He said once the demolition debris was moved outdoors it didn't pose a health hazard to surrounding residents.

    City officials will have to sign off on the mold removal part of the job before issuing a building permit for remodeling work to begin. But neighbors still say they worry about whether contractors will cut corners.

    Theresa Plaszcz said some of the crew members did not seem equipped for the job at hand.

    "We thought they'd come here in clean suits with respirators on," she said. "Some of them actually wore the body suit and had a respirator on. But two workers just pull up their shirts their nose when they were in there."

    Calls to the Nebraska contractor went unanswered Monday.

    (Copyright 2012 KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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