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Asbestos risk may force hockey team to find new home

Last month, we wrote about the investigation into a potentially major risk of asbestos exposure at the historic Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. At the time of that asbestos blog post, county officials planned to keep the arena open for hockey games and other events, potentially putting thousands of employees and guests at risk of asbestos exposure and the often-deadly consequences of such exposure.

After the initial small-scale probe turned up asbestos in areas of the arena that are not open to the public, the state Department of Labor has launched a major investigation into the alleged asbestos risk at the facility. Now, it appears that the New York Islanders, the hockey team that calls the Nassau Coliseum home, may be forced to find a new place to play next year if the county cannot determine the risk and, if it is necessary, remove the asbestos in time for the start of the new season.

One other possible scenario involves closing the arena completely, if investigators find that the asbestos levels in the arena are beyond removal and repair. According to a personal injury attorney representing several Nassau Coliseum employees who have developed mesothelioma or other ailments, that is a distinct possibility.

Although the county investigation concluded that the building was safe, the attorney says, a privately-commissioned test found an outdated fireproofing material that has been proven to cause mesothelioma and lung cancer in several parts of the arena, including hallways and seating sections.

If this is found to be true, the Islanders may spend next season (and all future seasons) playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Source: The Brooklyn Paper, "Long Island's asbestos may send hockey to Barclays Center," Daniel Bush, April 10, 2012

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