An asbestos removal project at a former church in Quincy, Massachusetts was promptly shut down after it was discovered that the contractor on the job failed to meet the safety requirements pertaining to proper asbestos removal.
In addition, the owner of the church building – once the Star of the Sea Church – was cited earlier this week for failing to properly protect the site and for leaving it in “a dangerous condition.”
The shutdown of the asbestos removal project was prompted after an on-site inspection, the result of a complaint from area residents. The church is being demolished to make way for four single-family homes.
Joe Ferson, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection, declined to reveal the infractions made by Clean Air Environmental of Boston, but noted that the company was not in compliance with state standards.
Furthermore, there was no fencing around the site, which should have been installed to keep others off the property. Apparently, loose shingles on the property roof also created a hazard.
According to an account in the Patriot Ledger, Ward 6 City Councilor William Harris, a Squantum neighborhood resident, praised city and state inspectors for taking action.
“The abutters of the property and the people of Squantum are not being treated properly (by the owner),” Harris said.
Building owner Victor Sheen, who hired Clean Air Environmental to remove asbestos from the church, reported that he hopes to have compliance issues rectified shortly and looks forward to demolition moving forward.
“Our team is working closely with DEP and the local building inspector to address the concerns at this point,” Sheen said. “I don’t expect this to be a big delay.”
Asbestos removal is closely observed in most jurisdictions throughout the U.S., though there are certainly contractors and individuals who skirt the rules and conduct asbestos abatement that puts workers and others at risk.
There are several lawsuits on the books involving shady contractors who have hired vagrants, homeless individuals, and non-English speaking immigrants to remove toxic asbestos from buildings. They do it in the interest of saving money and, thankfully, some are caught.
Others literally get away with murder as, sometimes, individuals who are exposed to asbestos will go on to develop deadly mesothelioma cancer.
Each year in the U.S., some 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos. Sadly, their diagnoses could have been avoided if they had been warned about the mineral’s toxicity.
In most cases, victims were negligently exposed by companies who continued the use of asbestos even though they were aware of its dangers. Thankfully, many of those companies are now being made to pay for their disregard of human safety via lawsuits and asbestos trust funds.