The owners of The Read House Hotel said Monday that a state investigation of asbestos at the historic hotel found that no one was exposed to any dangerous material.
The hotel in downtown Chattanooga plans to reopen this summer when all asbestos has been safely removed, it was stated.
Read House officials said they held an informal conference with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) last Tuesday "to present evidence and discuss the citations issued on Jan.
19. There was no finding that anyone, employee or guest, were ever injured or actually exposed to any asbestos materials in the hotel.
"As part of the resolution, TOSHA agreed to eliminate one of the citations, downgraded all remaining citations to 'Other Than Serious', and also reduce the fines. TOSHA also agreed that all citations have been addressed and abated by The Read House. Most importantly, the parties agreed that would be no liability on the part of The Read House or its owners. In light of the discussions on Tuesday, both parties agreed it was best to resolve the matter and move forward."
Jon Weitz, owner and president of Avocet Hospitality Group which owns and operates The Read House, said, "We are very thankful that we were finally presented with the opportunity to sit down with TOSHA and review the facts surrounding the investigation and subsequent citations. I think there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation concerning what prompted this investigation. Now that this is resolved, we can definitively state that there was never any claim or finding that anyone was ever injured or exposed to asbestos at The Read House Hotel. There is a big difference between 'actual' asbestos and 'presumed' asbestos. There is nothing to indicate that anyone was actually exposed."
Tammy Sprouse from Marion Environmental, based in Chattanooga, stated, "I think it is very important for the public to know that we find asbestos in almost every historic building we have ever worked in. The owners of the hotel retained us so that any asbestos will be removed by a certified and state accredited asbestos firm. The removal is being performed according to EPA and OSHA regulations. The Chattanooga/Hamilton County Air Pollution Board approved the required notification prior to the current demolition and construction activities.”
The Read House renovation is underway and any asbestos materials discovered is being removed in strict compliance with TOSHA requirements, it was stated. A certified asbestos abatement company is handling the removal.
Mr. Weitz said, "We are happy to have cleared our name and set the record straight regarding these allegations. We now look forward to completing our renovation and restoring The Read House to the great hotel that many Chattanoogans remember from years past."
The current schedule calls for The Read House to reopen in late summer of 2018.