I-TEAM: Pillsbury Mills Creates Asbestos Worries

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Springfield – At one time it employed over 1,000 people.  An entire neighborhood was built around it including small grocery stores and taverns.

Today, Pillsbury Mills is at best an eyesore.  At worst, a significant health hazard to people who live near it.

“It kind of looked like the Walton’s, everybody knew everybody,” Pillsbury Mills Neighborhood Association President John Keller told I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe.  “It went from a shining star to a black hole.”

The flour mill was built in the late 1920’s.  By the early 90’s business slowed and Pillsbury sold it to Cargill which closed the plant in 2001. 

In August, a demolition contractor was stopped by a court order when the Illinois Attorney General alleged the work was being done without properly containing cancer causing asbestos.  The legal fighting continues.

“You couldn’t pay me to go into that building,” said Al Pieper of the Sangamon Valley Group of the Sierra Club.  “Asbestos abatement and any other toxic material that might be present should be dealt with immediately.”

James Johnson of the NAACP environmental committee feels the Pillsbury Mills neighborhood has been ignored.

“This community over here has been asking for help at least ten years, I believe, if not more, on doing something with this thing,” Johnson stated last week outside of the plant.

Diane Guinn’s father worked at Pillsbury Mills from 1948 to 1985.  He died in 2012 from an asbestos related disease linked to the mill.

While the court battle drags on gates have been secured to keep people out with razor wire being placed to prevent people from getting in.  Meanwhile, signs have been attached to fences warning asbestos can cause cancer and lung disease.

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