Asbestos

RAWLINS — Rawlins City Council rejected the city attorney’s legal advice at their meeting last Tuesday when it came to a bid for an asbestos cleanup in Sinclair.

The council voted 5-1 to approve a bid from Asbestos Technical Services for the asbestos abatement and demolition of the Sinclair Booster Station and waived all of the landfill fees. Only councilman Aaron Durst dissented.

Public Works operations manager Danielle Gross gave a presentation about the bid during the meeting, detailing the history of the city owning the Sinclair and Fort Steele booster stations.

Many years ago, the city received the two stations to pump water from the river into the city.

The properties were leased from the Union Pacific Railroad, but the structures located there are owned by the city. In 2001, the city stopped using the booster stations, removed anything of value and left the buildings with basically no maintenance. The city doesn’t lease the property anymore, so now the railroad is pushing for the abatement of the two properties. Their priority is to clean up the Sinclair station, as they have some type of use for it. Once completed, the railroad staff would be willing to help with cleaning up the Fort Steele station.

“Staff is going to continue working with the UPRR in hopes to obtain a historic beautification lease for the Fort Steele pump station,” Gross wrote in her background info that was presented to the council. “This will allow us more time to budget for this property as it will be much more complicated to determine a better solution/use for the property.”

She noted that her staff is looking into the Wyoming Parks division in an attempt to make the pump station a part of the Fort Steele historic site.

Over the past few years, city staff have been trying to work with Union Pacific, which has been placing more pressure on the abatement. The railroad would like to see the property cleaned up and brought back to grade level. Once this is done, Union Pacific will fully take back the property.

In 2019, an inspection company from Colorado performed full inspections at both sites, finding asbestos at both locations. Gross’ staff worked with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s solid and hazardous waste division to obtain a one-time authorization to allow Rawlins’ landfill to accept the asbestos. By doing this, it would save the city around $100,000 in hauling expenses. Otherwise, the asbestos would have to be taken to the Casper landfill.

While the cleanup was placed out to bid, only ATS submitted one. However, it technically arrived late, coming in three minutes past the deadline due to email securities and road conditions, which Gross explained to the council.

While the council reserves the right to reject any/all bids or waive any irregularities or informalities in any bid, Gross asked the council to waive the irregularity of the bid being late, since it was only three minutes past the deadline and there were extenuating circumstances that caused the delay.

City attorney Amy Bach pointed out to the council that this could cause problems in the future and advised rejecting the bid, even though it was the only one submitted.

“This time, we only have one bid,” she said. “Next time, we might see more and more bids coming in late because you’ve set a precedent this time. Ultimately, it’s the governing body’s decision, but I would be doing you a disservice by not saying anything.”

The council, as noted, accepted the bid.

Ellen Fike is a freelance writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at elfylucille@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.

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