In a preliminary report, it has been confirmed that cable ducts in the Tour Montparnasse, a landmark building in Paris completed in 1973, are lined with Asbestos. Over the seven years of decontamination, asbestos fibres have lodged in the tower’s ventilation system, which carries air to areas that were believed asbestos-free.
The findings in the report has led French authorities to suspend decontamination work until further notice. The process has already cost the tower’s owners €250 million.
Some 5,000 people work in the 207m tower. Two companies have evacuated their offices. Other employers must decide whether to follow.
Magistrates who specialise in medical issues have been assigned to investigate asbestos contamination in the tower, with a mandate to determine who is responsible for endangering the lives of employees.
Since officials began monitoring asbestos levels in the tower four years ago, tests have shown levels surpassing the legal limit of five fibres per litre of air on 72 occasions.
The highest level of asbestos, 98.8 fibres per litre – nearly 20 times the legal limit – was recorded in late 2012 in the 48th-floor offices of the national council of the order of architects.
Peter Fitzpatrick, Health & Safety Manager at HBE commented “There are still many architects that are not aware of how Asbestos was used in the construction of buildings. This is an example of how design of ventilation shafts containing asbestos has created an issue over the life of the building. Architects and Building Contractors must be aware that during the refurbishment or maintenance of an older building, there is a strong risk that Asbestos may be hidden somewhere in the building.”