3 September 2010
Stimulus Funding Abates, Restores Asbestos-Ridden Train Displays
Scranton Pennsylvania USA - Railfest 2010 kicks off Saturday at Steamtown National Historic Site. Amid the celebration, some important federally funded work is underway to make the site safer.
Canadian National Steam Locomotive 3254 prepared to take passengers on a short trip Friday morning from Steamtown National Historic Site on its "Scranton Limited" run. This rail piece among the park's 110 piece collection is in fine working order. But 27 other locomotives and passenger cars were riddled with asbestos.
"It was used as insulation for the boilers on the locomotives, insulation on steam lines, the steam-heated coaches, and so forth," said Steamtown Superintendent Kip Hagen. Steamtown tried to get federal money for more than a decade to eliminate the asbestos problem. Finally, the federal government came through this year with about US$3 million in stimulus funding to abate the asbestos." It (asbestos) has to leach out somewhere and that's where openings around pipings come through," said Hagen. "So they (workers) would pick up the asbestos when it was sitting in the yard, seal this stuff off, and that's all we could really do."
That's until contracted workers began carrying out the asbestos and lead removal in April. They started with smaller pieces and targeted the larger locomotives for last.
Some of the pieces targeted for asbestos removal remained out in the open awaiting that work at the rail yard. But others that were in such bad shape were kept away from the public. Steamtown Visitor Services and Public Relations Spokesperson Mark Brennan says it's a relief to have the long-awaited work underway. "Now that the asbestos is gone and a lot of the lead paint is gone we can start cosmetically restoring this without any environmental concerns," said Brennan.
Screen capture from TV video.
Steamtown visitors believe the stimulus money used at the site is money well spent. "It's a safety factor," said Glenn Zahno of Ransomville, New York. "We've taken it (asbestos) out of everything else. Why wouldn't we take it out of this and make it safer." "As a train fanatic, I have to agree," said William Slim of Vancouver Island, Canada. "Spend the money. Spend more money," he laughed. The 27 pieces with the asbestos problem should be restored and returned for public display and use by spring 2011.
Railfest 2010 is Saturday and Sunday, September 4th and 5th, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m at Steamtown National Historic Site in downtown Scranton. The annual event will feature demonstrations and displays, train rides, and live entertainment.