The Iowa Department of Natural Resources continues to investigate “Block by Block,” a Cedar Rapids flood recovery organization. Last week, the DNR questioned the organization’s asbestos-testing policy. The group admitted it had not been testing for asbestos before allowing volunteers to work on homes.
As a result, major demolition and renovation work on “Block by Block” homes stalled. Now, the group must test all homes for asbestos before construction can begin or resume.
The DNR also plans to contact every single homeowner that benefited from the program. Officials will attempt to inspect those homes and look for signs of asbestos. If the DNR does find anything, it will take samples of material and test it.
Tom Wuehr, DNR environmental specialist, said Block by Block will receive a “notice of violation” for not testing for asbestos, but the DNR has not determined if the group will face any consequences or penalites. In addition, the DNR will turn over the list of Block by Block properties to the state and local health departments. Those agencies may choose to take further action as well.
Wuehr said he knows that Block by Block is a valuable organization to community and does not want to stand in the way of progress. However, he also must enforce the rules and protect people’s health.-- By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV9