Everyone agrees that a complex of asbestos-filled apartments in a diverse Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood need to be demolished. But just how the demolition and asbestos abatement will be accomplished has some locals up in arms.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that they would like to experiment with a new abatement method on one of the buildings, never before tried by the agency in a residential area.
“The only instance I know of an experiment was at an abandoned army base. It’s a completely different issue,” said Lon Burnam, from the Texas House of Representatives, who opposes the experiment.
Normally, explains a story aired on WFAA-TV in Dallas/Ft. Worth, all asbestos is removed before a building is demolished so as to avoid the spread of airborne asbestos particles. In the experimental procedure, workers soak the building with treated water, then tear it down and carefully remove it, asbestos and all.
Many locals believe the Fort Worth apartment complex, located in a section known as Woodhaven, has been pegged for the experiment because it has a large minority population. “I think it’s another example of environmental racism,” said Burnam, who admits that the neighborhood has seen its share of crime and economic blight.
Brian Boerner, Fort Worth’s environmental management director, said the city’s been pushing for this method to “help” neighborhoods like Woodhaven, stuck with vacant eyesores.
“No city has enough money to address every structure that needs to be addressed; [with the experimental method] you can save up to 70 percent off the cost of abatement,” Boerner said.
Boerner’s convinced the method is safe and his answers are enough for Woodhaven’s Neighborhood Association. “We felt really good about it and… we live right next door,” said Greg Ricks from the Woodhaven Neighborhood Association.