More Asbestos Released from Boston Steampipe

The Boston Globe reports that the company hired to clean up the debris from a burst Boston steampipe last week was fired after a mishap they caused released yet more asbestos into the air. City officials also reported that they learned after the company was hired that they were not licensed to handle the toxic material.

According to the article, workers from Walton Systems International were using the wrong type of truck to vacuum asbestos from beneath Otis Street when city inspectors visited the site last Wednesday night, according to Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.

The visit by inspectors was prompted by a report that a faulty filtration system in a vacuum excavator released debris contaminated with trace amounts of asbestos during clean-up proceedings last Tuesday night.

A spokeswoman for Trigen Boston Energy Corp., which operates a 22-mile network of steam pipes beneath the city, said that Trigen had hired LVI Services to clean up the area after a pipe burst on September 11th, sending brown mud-like debris into the streets. The debris contained asbestos. In turn, LVI subcontracted the work to Walton Systems, who was not licensed to carry out the job.

“Trigen remains committed to addressing any asbestos containing material in the safest way possible,” said Nancy Sterling, spokesperson for Trigen. The company vowed last week to perform a safety inspection of its steam distribution network within 90 days.

Air tests taken in the neighborhood late last week did not detect asbestos, but all the surfaces have to be cleaned and retested, said Joe Ferson, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Swab tests of surfaces around the manhole detected a minimum amount of asbestos last Wednesday, and Trigen immediately notified public health officials, Sterling said.

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