Asbestos adds $1.1 M to Marin County airport runway costs

The runway at Marin County's Gnoss Field in Novato was built in 1968 and shows steady signs of deterioration on June 19, 2017. (COUNTY OF MARIN)


Add $1 million to the cost to rehab the 50-year-old runway at Marin County’s Gnoss Field Airport in Novato.

Marin County officials blame the boost on “discovery of naturally occurring asbestos in serpentine rock underneath the old runway” during its renovation. The announcement will put the estimated cost of reviving the runway to $3.38 million, officials stated.

The problem was discovered in October at the Novato area facility which has been closed for runway work since September.

The county stated its sample initially turned up 3.6 percent naturally occurring asbestos, which is above regulatory levels of 0.25 percent. Additional testing found asbestos containing materials ranging from 0.08 percent to 4.8 percent.

Monte Deignan & Associates, an environmental and industrial hygiene firm, implemented air monitoring, prepared a safety plan and conducted contractor and employee training. Construction work stopped until worker safety and monitoring measures could be implemented. Under the firm’s direction, construction restarted Oct. 30 “with the implementation of strict environmental and workforce safety precautions, including air quality monitoring, continual soil samples and mandatory protocols for safely handling asbestos.”

Additional safety precautions were removed Nov. 13.

Additional costs include $100,000 for safety training and monitoring, as well as the added labor and materials to cover the asbestos. County General Fund money will cover the added costs for the moment, until determinations are made if the FFA grant which is paying for the bulk of the work will cover the additional costs, the county stated.

The 120-acre airport, on the eastern side of Highway 101 and Mount Burdell, normally handles about 85,500 flight operations per year and is a popular destination for both business and pleasure pilots.