Neighborhoods in Detroit are dotted with abandoned houses and many of them present a danger to those living nearby. Locals rejoice when the city decides to take down those vacant houses.
But the joy was short-lived earlier this month when a demolition company destroyed the wrong house, instead demolishing one that was full of toxic asbestos. Now, neighbors are concerned that they’ve been exposed to toxic dust.
According to an account of the incident by WXYZ Action News Detroit, neighbors were delighted when they learned a burned out house that had sat vacant since 2013 was to be demolished.
However, when Able Demolition Company arrived to take the house down, they made an error and, instead, demolished a home that should have remained standing, at least until dangerous asbestos materials were removed.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has now cited the company for their violation.
“They put my health in jeopardy,” one concerned neighbor told a WXYZ reporter. But the Detroit Land Bank Authority, responsible for ordering the demolition, was quick to say that the error wasn’t their fault.
“The home in question was demolished without permission from the Detroit Land Bank Authority or the Detroit Building Authority,” they said in a statement issued to the press. “The contractor immediately self-reported the error to the MDEQ. The DLBA and the DBA did not cause the alleged violations and therefore, cannot explain their cause.”
“As a licensed demolition contractor, it was the DBA and the DLBA’s expectation that the contractor would have followed the legal requirements and the DBA’s Scope of Work for these projects had the contractor had the permission to demolish,” they continued. “The DBA’s Scope of Work clearly sets for the requirements for demolition projects.
If those requirements are not followed, contractors are subject to disciplinary action. The contractor in this case has been referred to the city of Detroit for disciplinary review.”
Where asbestos exposure is concerned, it’s easy to place the blame on someone else. Companies have been doing that for decades. It’s difficult to judge what the level of exposure might have been in this instance, but it’s important for the city to hold Able Demolition Company responsible for their costly error.
They should face a hefty fine, at the least.
There have been many recorded incidences of demolition companies destroying buildings that still contain asbestos. This usually happens when property owners are trying to save the costs associated with asbestos removal.
As such, not only neighbors but also demolition company employees are left at risk for asbestos exposure and will likely spend a lifetime worrying about whether or not they will eventually develop a devastating asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma.
Anyone who’s developed mesothelioma as a result of shoddy construction practices should know that it is their RIGHT to bring charges against those responsible for their asbestos exposure.