State checking Coliseum for asbestos

Inspection reports show air quality is safe in Inspection reports show air quality is safe in public areas of Nassau Coliseum, according to a consulting firm hired by Nassau County. Photo Credit: Newsday File, 2008/Alan Raia

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An inspector for the state Department of Labor has been analyzing the Nassau Coliseum to determine whether asbestos in the popular concert, recreation and sports venue poses a cancer threat.

"We can confirm that we did send an inspector out to the Nassau Coliseum and we are doing an asbestos investigation," said Leo Rosales, spokesman for the agency, based in Albany. "That's the extent of what we can say at this time."

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Nassau County has previously acknowledged that the arena, which opened in 1972, contains asbestos within its walls, but the issue surfaced again this week when an attorney who represents some of the Coliseum workers spoke with NBC News 4.

"The Islanders, as the primary tenant, expect that the building owner, Nassau County, and the building facility manager, SMG, will review the allegations and take any and all appropriate action," Islanders senior vice president Michael Picker said in a statement. "It is my understanding that the review has already begun. The safety of our fans, players and employees is paramount."

County officials could not be reached for comment, but the asbestos issue was part of the debate last year over whether to tear down the Coliseum to build a new arena for the Islanders.

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At that time, county officials confirmed asbestos was present as they were conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment of the area surrounding the building in the weeks before the Aug. 1 referendum on the new site. Nassau voters rejected the $400 million project.

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