ACCESS DENIED: ASBESTOS CONTAMINATION AS CATALYST AND HINDRANCE TO COLLECTION RETRIEVAL AND PRESERVATION
VIRGINIA M. DEUCHER, TAMURA L. MOORE, & STEVE HEMLIN
4 4. PLANNING
Planning for Building 17 proceeded along several tracks simultaneously. The goal was to ensure that sufficient resources, such as staff, equipment, and funding, existed to address the situation safely and that the project was completed on time and within the $1.9 million budget. The planning team members included internal and contract architects, engineers, industrial hygienists, conservators, curators, collections managers, and asbestos decontamination professionals. This group reviewed all aspects of the project to identify potential problem areas and issues. Two concerns repeatedly arose during this planning process: a lack of adequate staffing and the need to define the artifact decontamination methods and clearance protocols.
It was also clear to the Building 17 planning team that the artifact decontamination segment of the project would require contractor assistance to perform technical work, such as construction and maintenance of the asbestos containment, as well as the decontamination of artifacts. To ensure proper contract support, NMAH also established a series of six meetings with the asbestos decontamination firm, LVI, and the environmental monitoring firm, Law Engineering, after award of the contract. The meetings centered on the development and finalization of decontamination and clearance protocols. They led to a confirmation of staff resources needed for both the contractor and NMAH, in this case a 3:1 ratio respectively within the containment. NMAH doubled its staff number to ensure that the workload outside the containment, which involved object stabilization, movement, tracking, and storage, would also be met.
Finally, NMAH held a series of meetings with the curatorial units affected by the project. These meetings served as a conduit through which curatorial concerns and ideas were voiced and addressed.
In this team-based approach, NMAH defined staffing requirements, addressed risk management issues and safety concerns, began the artifact decontamination work, and established a process through which changes to the plan could be considered and implemented.