By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Old tiles removed from Del Norte County Airport's passenger terminal as part of a facelifting project are part of the focus of an investigation being conducted by Cal-OSHA.

Cal-OSHA investigators at the organization aren't sure where the removed tiles have landed, said agency spokesman Dean Fryer.

Given the age of the building, erected shortly after World War II, airline employees raised concerns that the tiles may contain asbestos, said airport manager Jim Bernard.

To allay their fears, the county hired New Life Services Company to clean the terminal for possible asbestos after the tiles were removed earlier this month, Bernard said.

It also hired Winzler and Kelly Engineering to conduct air samples before and after cleaning, he said.

andquot;Five pre-cleaning samples indicated negative detection for asbestos, four out of five post-cleaning samples indicated negative detection and one sample picked up one asbestos fiber,andquot; Bernard said.

The level of fibers, according to andquot;the engineerandquot; is considered naturally occurring, Bernard said.

andquot;(It) falls well below federal school building air quality standards,andquot; Bernard said.

But there's a problem: Cal-OSHA wants to know where the tiles were disposed, said Fryer said.

Bernard said that andquot;Cal-OSHA has a tile sample, and we are awaiting their report.andquot;

Burtschell's Floor Covering removed the old tiles from the terminal building and carpet laid on the floor to improve the aging terminal's looks.

Owner Beverly Burtschell said an OSHA investigator visited her store the Monday after the tiles were removed and andquot;took a couple of pieces.andquot;

andquot;We had the tile at the store ... we bought bags for its disposal that were marked 'hazardous waste,' and proceeded to dispose of them according to regulations,andquot; she said.

The bags were taken to Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority for disposal at an approved facility, Burtschell said.

Cal-OSHA will not issue any further statements until its investigation is concluded, Fryer said.