Colorado Springs, CO (KRDO) – King Soopers The company announced the temporary closure of its store at the intersection of South Academy Boulevard and Hancock Expressway “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a statement released Tuesday.
The store is undergoing an internal remodel, with the grocery chain citing possible asbestos after testing.
King Soopers said it is actively addressing the situation and has appointed independent experts working in full cooperation with the appropriate state agencies, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), to assist with their assessments.
The store will be closed until all concerns have been addressed and to ensure the safety of colleagues and customers is a top priority.
King Soopers officials said they will provide updated information as it becomes available.
Indications are that the store closed Monday night—much to the surprise and frustration of employees who showed up to work Tuesday morning, and disappointing customers who depend on the store for its convenient location.
A customer was in tears, saying she was unable to pick up a cake she had ordered from the bakery for her daughter’s birthday party on Tuesday; Another customer was trying to find out if his prescriptions would be transferred to another branch of King Soopers; A third customer overturned several shopping carts in anger.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed to KRDO Tuesday that a complaint was filed last week about possible asbestos exposure at the store, and that an inspector is investigating.
A statement was also issued by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, a union representing 105 workers in the store, stating that: “… allegations indicate that members and customers may have been exposed to a carcinogen that poses serious health risks.”
Loretta Gay, a union attendant, said employees received a recorded letter from the corporate office, explaining that they would be paid until the end of the week before being assigned to other King Soopers stores.
“I worked in the store for six years and my two sons also work there,” she said. “I first heard about the asbestos concerns a week and a half ago, from the night shift. They said the construction crew put plastic over the pharmacy, put a ventilation system in the pharmacy. Then after that everyone’s concern was like, What’s going on? No one was wearing any kind of mask.” Or biohazard suits or anything to protect himself.”
Some customers are unhappy that King Soopers officials weren’t aware of the problem sooner, and gave them – and the staff – more advance notice.
“How long will it take to find out?” the customer asked. “What are they going to do with all the food there? How long have they known about it before telling us? Why haven’t they done a better job of notifying customers and staff?”
Asbestos is a fire-resistant material that was used to insulate buildings prior to 1980; Exposed asbestos fibers can cause lung damage if inhaled.
Other King Soopers locations that will be opening include:
- 1750 W Uintah St Colorado Springs, CO 80904
- 815 Cheyenne Meadows Rd Colorado Springs, CO 80906
- 7915 Constitution Avenue Colorado Springs, CO 80951
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