- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - Officials say hundreds of soon-to-be-retired rail cars in Washington’s Metro system contain small amounts of asbestos, but passengers are not at risk.

The transit agency has issued a contract proposal seeking a company to remove asbestos from 280 cars in its fleet.

Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said in a Tuesday statement that 1000-series cars contain small amounts of asbestos within their mechanical area. The cars date back to the Metro’s opening in 1976. Ly says the removal of the asbestos is imperative as the cars are retired in the next few years.

The Environmental Protection Agency says asbestos exposure occurs only when asbestos-containing material is damaged or disturbed, releasing particles and fibers into the air.

Ly says the material does not release fibers unless it is sawed through or drilled through.

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