Bill for cleanup of Ebola-tainted apartment: over $100K
Source: http://www.usatoday.com, October 9, 2014
By: Todd Unger
Hazardous-cleanup companies get a lot of odd requests, but nothing prepared the crew at CG Environmental for this past week.
A 15-person team spent the weekend decontaminating the Dallas apartment where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, had stayed since coming Sept. 20 to the United States from Liberia. Duncan was hospitalized Sept. 28 but started showing Ebola symptoms four days earlier; he died Wednesday.
“We were the first in, and we really had no clue what we were getting into,” employee Dan Lee said.
The team went through two phases of decontamination, eventually removing enough material to fill 140 drums of what is now considered hazardous material.
“We removed those (the family’s mattresses) and started cutting those up, then moved to the bathroom and the closet and got everything touched by him,” Lee said. “The lighting was poor in that house, to say the least, and it was definitely eerie.”
They were instructed to strip the place bare, removing carpeting and window blinds. The drums of waste are expected to be incinerated this week.
“I’ve got a wife, two kids,” Garrett Eison said. “You hear ‘Ebola.’ You think Africa and deaths. It’s like the plague. You try to stay away from it.”
But Eison said most of the workers felt compelled to step in and help — with the proper safety equipment — because so few companies are equipped to handle such jobs. The company also does crime-scene cleanup, industrial cleaning and hazardous-waste removal.
“Now that we’ve done one it should get easier, but we need to be cautious,” Eison said.
Bleach, soap, sunlight or high temperatures will kill the Ebola virus, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Machine-washing clothes or bedding contaminated with Ebola will destroy the virus, and it survives only a short time on solid surfaces that are in the sun or have dried.
The company was busy Wednesday night cleaning an isolation room at Texas Presbyterian Hospital Dallas where Duncan was treated before his death, according to Vice President Brand Smith.
“We’ve been contacted by the hospital, and we’ve been contacted by several entities throughout the U.S. just for protocols — ‘What do we do? How do we handle this?’ ” said CG Environmental’s owner, Erick McCallum.
Workers won’t be needed at an urgent-care clinic in Frisco, Texas, where Sgt. Michael Monnig, a Dallas County sheriff’s deputy who accompanied health department officials to Duncan’s apartment, showed up Wednesday saying he had Ebola symptoms. Test results returned Thursday show Monnig doesn’t have the virus.
The high-profile jobs bring in big money for the company. The apartment cleanup alone is expected cost more than $100,000 although negotiations on a final figure are not finished.
The state of Texas has said it will pick up most if not all of the expenses for the Dallas apartment decontamination.