Asbestos Removal Concerns Neighbors

Brookline, Mass. residents who live near a church that’s planning to demolish a portion of its buildings are concerned that asbestos dust and fibers will spread throughout the neighborhood during the demolition process, despite reassurances that the work is being handled properly.

According to an article in the Brookline Tab, work crews began removing potentially hazardous asbestos from the St. Aidan’s site this week, but concerned neighbors say they want more information about the building’s impending demolition.

Over two days, workers wetted, removed and bagged asbestos-containing materials on the site as they prepared to tear down the church’s rectory and two garages, the article notes. Contractors expected to demolish the garages by the end of the week, with the rectory to follow.

Responding to the concerns, a builder affiliated with the archdiocese of Boston promised to update residents on their progress on a daily basis for the next two weeks. However, he refused to provide the precise demolition date when asked for that information.

“In construction, it’s very difficult to get a specific date, because you don’t know how fast the work is going to happen,” said developer David Armitage of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs.

But some neighbors weren’t satisfied. Freeman Street resident Susan Feinstein said she wanted to know when demolition would start so she could get her family out of the area.

“I don’t want, 20 to 30 years from now, for the children to come down with cancer,” she said.
Project managers said they would cover the work area with drapes and noted that workers would be equipped with personal air monitors so that work would stop if asbestos fibers reach an unacceptable level.

Lexy Winter, a Boston University student who lives on Crowninshield Road, said that was not enough. She asked that the developer inform neighbors immediately if asbestos is detected in the air.
“I would want to know if it’s at a level where you need to stop,” she said.

Several neighbors asked the developers to limit demolition work to school hours to minimize contact with students. However, Director of Environmental Health Pat Maloney said there was no cause for concern and certainly no need to evacuate during demolition.

“We have a lot of this going on — we don’t have people vacating neighborhoods because of this,” he said.

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