Neighbors Concerned about Asbestos Released During Shoddy Demolition

Residents of Wilmington, Massachusetts were happy to learn this week that the contractor who tore down an asbestos-filled home in their neighborhood will be subject to a hefty fine due to his disregard for laws governing the removal of the toxic material.

Neighbors Concerned about Asbestos Released During Shoddy DemolitionThe Lowell Sun reported that as neighbors watched the demolition last August, they saw plumes of dust in the air as the house tumbled to the ground. They knew the home had asbestos siding (and potentially other asbestos materials inside) and couldn’t understand why the contractor hadn’t removed the siding and disposed of it before the demolition.
Now, says neighbor David Norton, they at least feel vindicated by the imposed $125.000 fine but are still concerned about the affects the shoddy demolition might eventually have on their health, especially given that there was no pre-warning about it.

“The consent judgment, entered last Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office that alleges Langone Development Group, Inc. (a contracting company), 3 Holly Street, LLC (the property owner), and Jonathan S. Langone (the president and manager of both companies), violated the state’s clean air law while haphazardly knocking down the single-family home,” reports the article in The Lowell Sun.

The lawsuit points out the fact that the shingles were not removed prior to demolition and stresses that no safety precautions were taken to protect workers or others in the vicinity from inhaling errant asbestos fibers that likely circulated through the air.

Shelly Newhouse, the health director for the city of Wilmington, pointed out that the town has also imposed a fine on the contractor, albeit small given the potential impact of his actions.

“I’m just disappointed in how the whole thing went down,” Newhouse said. “But he’s getting punished for it and that’s what happens when you do something wrong.

The fact is, however, that this same scenario plays out day after day in towns throughout the United States. Contractors take short cuts, unwilling to pay the extra cost for proper asbestos removal. The result is asbestos exposure for both unsuspecting workers and neighbors.

In reality, $125,000 is a small price to pay for putting lives in jeopardy. Perhaps if states or municipalities start imposing stiffer penalties, contractors will stand up and take notice and refrain from these dangerous practices. It’s not likely, however, that the laws will change anytime soon, especially under the current administration, which thinks asbestos is safe.