As the city of Detroit struggles to deal with large amounts of urban blight, discoveries such as bags full of asbestos dumped in a pile, construction workers happened upon earlier his week add to the already growing frustration about the condition of one of America’s poorest cities.
Earlier this week, huge piles of bags full of what is believed to be asbestos-containing materials were found in a southwest Detroit neighborhood, reported a representative from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), raising concerns that individuals – including perhaps children – may have been exposed to the toxic material.
The Farrow Group, a local demolition company, reported finding the bags Tuesday inside a shed while on a job for Detroit’s blight demolition program, reports the Detroit Free Press.
The company notified the state and the city as to its suspicion that the bags could contain asbestos and immediately halted any work they were doing near the dump site.
Samples were collected the day after the discovery and lab results were to be returned in 24 hours. However, the demolition workers are intimately familiar with asbestos materials and were quite sure this is what was in the bags, which were piled about three feet high.
“Certainly this is not a normal finding … and that’s why we’re investigating,” said Melody Kindraka of the DEQ’s public information office.
The Detroit Building Authority also says there are looking into the matter, sending a representative to the property to take photos and consult with the DEQ.
“Health and safety is of the highest priority for Detroit’s demolition program,” said a spokesperson for Detroit mayor Mike Duggan. “While the (MDEQ) results are pending, the Detroit Building Authority has sent a hazardous-materials removal company to remove the bags. Removal is scheduled for this evening.”
The city of Detroit has been hard at work trying to clean up its most run-down neighborhoods. Workers encounter asbestos on-the-job quite often as they inspect the worst of the buildings set for demolition.
The article in the Detroit Free Press notes that the city has already torn down some 11,000 blighted properties – residential and commercial – and that a large number of them have indeed contained some sort of asbestos materials, including tiles, insulation, and more.
Contractors assigned to tear down the buildings are required to properly remove any asbestos-containing products before demolition occurs and then properly dispose of the debris. Most comply.
No one seems to know how the offending bags made their way into the shed in question and who put them there.
Sadly, the shed was in a highly-populated area so authorities hope that no one was in contact with the bags before the contractors found them.