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Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?

Posted by Ezekiel Hughes  
avatar Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 07:53AM
I just moved to a new area. I was quite stoked that I was two minutes from this creek as it is full of the rocks I like...rodingite, idocrase (vesuvianite) hydrogrossular garnet (hibschite) and jade (nephrite).......maybe. A few days ago I watched as this sign was erected:

Swift Creek, Everson WA Sumas Mt.:

It is private timberland, and being now posted is officially off limits. i realize that I will have to try to get special permission to collect on the creek now, but that seems unlikely as this probably has more to do with liability than public safety. My question is this: REALLY? Are we now going to start shutting down public access to all natural hazzards? I say, block off all access to the Grand might fall!

Washington State

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/08/2010 08:02AM by Ezekiel Hughes.
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 10:39AM
open | download - warningsign.jpg (20.5 KB)
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 10:41AM
Well, the sign doesn't say, "entry forbidden."B)-
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 12:22PM
I loved this sign a few weeks ago on Sicily...
It's the only sign that I know of with a mineral-name in it :)
open | download - warningsign-fluoroedenite.jpg (109.8 KB)
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 01:26PM
I don't think it is possible to get wet asbestos airborne. More bad science and misinformation at work.
Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 03:14PM
I agree with Mark. Further, most asbestiform minerals are not any more dangerous than any other airborne dust. The only nasty one is, if my memory serves me, crocidolite. I'd bet these people don't have a clue what mineral is present, and don't care. They are only reacting to be "politically correct" and cover their hind ends.
Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 03:29PM
Hmmmm, ....stay indoors....
But avoid the bed under all circumstances! About 98% of all people die in the bed. So beware!
Franz Bernhard
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 03:37PM
Despite the focus on crocoidolite and amosite asbestos, it seems that most respirable amphibole fibres are potentially carcinogenic and most amphiboles will form respirable fibre if crushed, but if they start fencing off all areas with amphiboles we will end up with a hell of a lot of country locked away. Its part of the natural environment and we should avoid breathing large amounts of any dust AFAP anyway. We all have thousands of asbestos fibre in our lungs (mostly from natural dusts and brake linings) and its very rare to cause problems except when there are really massive doses and you are a smoker. Falling off the horse is probably more dangerous.

Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 04:29PM
Perhaps you may want to quietly ask a few questions as to why this sign was posted.
Someone within the Health Department might be willing to talk.
I'm guessing that an engineering firm or surveying team identified this area as having asbestos.
The words dredge piles suggest that something was going on with this area of the river and that they were moving material.
The members of Mindat tend to be a savy lot and we don't run screaming when we hear about asbestiform minerals or radioactivity.
That's because we understand what they are and the safeguards for handling such materials.
If there were heavy concentrations of naturally occuring Asbestos in the area, I don't think it isn't necessarily imprudent to point out the risks,
especially if people could play with rich samples found lying on the ground. "Look Mommy at the fuzzy rock I found, can I take it home?". You get the idea.

Greg Kokolus
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 07:50PM
Thanks Greg, I will be asking around. I agree that perhaps a warning is's the closeing of access that irks me. It is my understanding that a "private property" posting is the same as a "no trespassing" sign...though I could be wrong. Normally, in Washington state, unposted timberland is open to the public. I actually became aware of the site because of a web page from the health dept regarding the asbestos. I guess I'm the only person that would be happy to hear there's asbestos on a creek smiling smiley I am uncertain why they would dredge it out of the creek...makes no sense to me. it is just timberland. There is a rather large landslide at the start of the creek from which the asbestos (and everything else) came from. this happened I believe several years ago...and I'm sure is just one of countless they will be dredging forever because that is the landscape. this is clearly an overreaction to a natural occurance. there may be a belief that it somehow poses a risk to the public down stream...once agian, there is nothing they can do about it unless they remove the entire mountain.
Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 08:41PM
I understand your frustration, Zeke. But while you and many other mineral collectors (me included!) would be happy to get in the creek and take the risk, there are others out there who would jump at the chance to sue. I read that sign as evidence that there is proof somewhere (in the public domain) that the landowner and/or county has been informed that there are potentially dangerous asbestiform minerals in the creek, and that they have been advised by their lawyers that if they don't post, then they will be vulnerable to lawsuits. "The Corporation KNEW there were dangerous minerals in the creek, and didn't post a warning sign. And then my boy went rockhunting, and now Dr. Quack says he's got something, and I'm suing the Corporation for 6.8 million dollars."
Unfortunately, a symptom of our lawsuit-happy culture. The landowner is not necessarily at fault - rather the legions of people eager to get their settlement.
Best of luck jade-hunting round your new place.
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 08, 2010 11:13PM
i just LOVE your warning sign! :D

cheers, Colleen
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 09, 2010 12:17AM
A few answers....apparently they are dredging the lower portion of the creek to control flooding ....the landslide is dumping a lot of sediment into the creek (the landslide, which can be seen from the road, is a slow moving slide that is still moving) the time the sediment gets way down stream (past the sign btw) it settles and causes a greater risk of flooding in the populated areas. However, a study showed that there was not a higher incidence of asbestos related illness in the area, nor do they expect there to be. further, I don't think there are dredge piles on the upper creek area (above the sign)....but I don't know. A few links:

swift creek


So it is an over-reaction by the Whatcom County health dept. based on an EPA report. Sure, don't play on the dredge piles (the piles are on Farmland....I recall seeing them now heading toward Nooksack/Everson.)

I have an asbestos rated mask...maybe they'll let me in if I promise to wear it LOL! So this is REALLY about flooding, not asbestos...someone just jumped to the wrong conclusion when they heard the A word.
Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 09, 2010 06:54AM
A fun part of California has been locked off for similar reasons:


Based on the results of the Environmental Protection Agency’s CCMA Asbestos Exposure and Human Health Risk Assessment, the Bureau of Land Management Hollister Field Office has issued a Temporary Closure, effective May 1, 2008, to all forms of entry and public use for approximately 31,000 acres of public lands in the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) to protect public health and safety.
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 09, 2010 07:02AM
The grim joke on all of us, is that if you have been driving for more than 20 years, you have asbestos dust in your lungs...why ...because all brake pads used to be made out of heat and fireproof densely packed asbestos, ground off while braking and stirred up while driving...ARRGH..that is why we use ceramiform brake pads now.
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 26, 2010 01:13AM
The town of Wittenoon in Western Australia has literally been "removed" from maps becasue of the tons and tons of blue asbestos lying around. The asbestos was even used in road construction. But the exposed ground itself and related mine dumps are not sealed. The wind blows this dust everywhere. There are also numerous abandoned asbestos mines in New South Wales and those dumps also are exposed to the elements. When the wind blows the asbestos dust spread around very easily.

When we note that some outback dust storms have resulted in dust being blown across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand then I am sure that most of us in NSW have been exposed to some amounts of asbestiform dust just from NSW mines. I'm sure that everyone on the east coast of Australia also have been exposed to radioactive dusts blown from Maralinga in South Australia where they carried out nuclear testing.

All of these mines and of course Maralinga rightly have signs advising of the dangers.

I don't think that the signs or in particular the sign to which Ezekial refers is BS or in deed as later mentioned, an over reaction.

It is unclear from the comments whether mining has actually been carried on there in the past, only current dredging of the creek. The sign merely informs that the area is unsafe and potentially dangerous. I guess if there is landslippage then that itself is a major danger which also should have been mentioned on the sign. If there has been any asbestos mining carried out in the area in the past then that will inevitably have created crushed asbestos, exposure to which you don't want. If naturally occuring asbestos has been exposed to the elements and has been eroded away due to either to the forces of nature or the impact of man then even those amounts of dust could potentially cause harm.

Is it an overaction ? ,,, maybe, but whether as just an average uninformed citizen or an experienced collector I would want to know or at least be advised of the potential dangers.

And Yes, before anyone chips in, all mining is dangerous and care needs to be taken, irrespective of above ground or below ground collecting. You could even slip over in a river while collecting and drown!.

The bigger problem is that of asbestos mines that have ceased and have not been fully remidiated. That just leaves a problem for some future generation.

avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 26, 2010 01:30AM
Thanks for your comments. Just to clear some things up, the sign does more than just warn of potential dangers. It's verbage "private property" shuts down access to the timberlands that otherwise would be open. It also says you may not remove material....I'm uncertain the point of that...unless they invision folks taking handfuls of the fine grianed sediment home, drying it out and snorting it....there is no danger picking up a rock...they are the same kind of rocks I collect throughout the Cascades.

No mining, just a land slide at the headwaters.

And a correction...there are dredge piles on the creek past the sign as well as below it...I just didn't notice them before. They were selling for fill, cement and what not at I guess it's just going to sit there.
Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 26, 2010 01:19PM
How many mindaters are familiar with the Ban Asbestos Act which the United States Senate passed in 2007? Luckily Congress hasn't approved it or it could have an impact on mineral dealing. It has some very broadly worded language which would prohibit the sale of:

"(3) ELONGATED MINERAL PARTICLE- The term `elongated mineral particle' means a single crystal or similarly elongated polycrystalline aggregate particle with a length to width ratio of 3 to 1 or greater.

(4) BIOPERSISTENT ELONGATED MINERAL PARTICLE- The term `biopersistent elongated mineral particle' means an elongated mineral particle that--

(A) occurs naturally in the environment; and

(B) is similar to asbestos in--

(i) resistance to dissolution;

(ii) leaching; and

(iii) other physical, chemical, or biological processes expected from contact with lung cells and other cells and fluids in the human body."

This act, if passed, could outlaw the sale of many asbestos-like mineral specimens, but also non asbestos minerals like tourmaline (3:1 ratio, resistant to dissolution, etc). We could all be stuck only collecting isometric water-soluble minerals.

Yes, asbestos containing building materials did and does cause a lot of health problems. But when riebeckite is outlawed, then only outlaws will have riebeckite.
avatar Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 26, 2010 03:30PM
Mineralogists and geologists worldwide are struggling to get some common sense into the environmental regulations. They are devised by epidemiologists and bureacrats who devise their own mineralogical definitions as you note above.

Re: Asbestos Piles or Pile of BS?
June 26, 2010 04:20PM

These fears obvioiusly has been created by politicians and a compliant dumbed down media who sit in their studios in major cities, insulated from trom the real world. I live in a country in which most people don't care what they pump into their bodies but yet they panic when they hear the words asbestos, radon, radioactivity, coal and oil. The entire approach to these issues is contradictory and hypocritical with no critic offering any alternative to getting rid of these hazards. Artificial fertilizers, for example, are always on the list of to be banned products yet bureaucrats in Washington want to fine farmers in the state of Pennsylvania for using MANURE as a fertilizer because they contend the use of same is contaminating the Chesapeake Watershed which, of course, drains past Washington, DC.

I spoke with a couple of these bureaucratcs recently and was shocked and aggravated by their flippant attitude relative to the contradictions in their beliefs and the economic disaster that would occur. Do you recall the media created hysteria surrounding the approach of year 2000? Planes were supposed to fall out of the sky, ships would stop, power plants would shut down and all sorts of computer programs would crash. Recently, the media was obscessed with the bird flu and pumped out thousands of hours and pages of stories about an epidemic (according to them) that would kill millions. Fox News, with its dyed blonde headed bimbos, was the worst offender.

Recently the media reported a story about a suggestion to put a dome over a volcano in Hawaii to prevent gasses from affecting the surrounding vegetation. This is proof (in my humble opinion) that science and logic will never win. The boogey man is alive and well in the United States, so as Jolyon suggests: stay at home!

Best wishes,


Eat more hoagies and avoid heroes, bombers, grinders, submarines and torpedos.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2010 04:28PM by Joseph Polityka.

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