Asbestos was found in hundreds of the Metro's oldest railcars, otherwise known as 1000-series railcars, according to NBC4. A WMATA contract proposal from July 23, 2015 reported that "a small amount of asbestos in the heater box behind the evaporator in each railcar." The evaporators are located at the front and back ends of each 1000-series railcar. While three of the asbestos-ridden railcars are not currently in service, there are 280 1000-series railcars in use in the Metro system, according to NBC4. While the Metro has confirmed that they are working on hiring a contractor to remove the asbestos and retire every 1000-series railcar, there are no reports yet on how long that will take. On the 4000-series railcars currently in use in the Metro system, the contract proposal states that "to the best of WMATA's information and belief, the 4000-series railcars do not contain asbestos." In the contract proposal, it further reads that the railcars will be removed "in an environmentally responsible manner" and "if the Contractor discovers additional asbestos, Contractor will remove it at no additional cost to the Authority." The risks of exposure to asbestos can include scarring of lung tissue, lung cancer, and cancer of the lung lining and chest wall, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
UPDATE: Metro spokesperson Sherri Ly released this statement:
The 1000-series railcars, which are now 40 years old and at the end of their life, contain an extremely small amount of a non-friable asbestos-containing material within a specific mechanical area of the railcar. Non-friable material cannot be crumbled and does not release fibers unless it is abraded (e.g., sawed through or drilled through). Moreover, the material is outside of the passenger cabin and is not accessible to riders, thus poses no hazard or concern. Because we will soon begin the process of retiring these railcars, we have arranged for appropriate removal and disposal of this material as the cars are decommissioned.
· Hundreds of Metro Cars Contain Asbestos, Documents Show [NBC4]
· [UPDATE] Metro's Latest Woe: Asbestos (Yes, Really) [DCist]
· Pick-Up & Disposal Services for 1000 & 4000 Series Railcars [WMATA]