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Asbestos Continues Delay in Opening New Boston Homeless Shelter

With the unscheduled closing of Boston’s Long Island Homeless Shelter, city officials have been scrambling find a new location to house hundreds of displaced homeless residents and many drug rehabilitation patients.

renovationtime.jpgThe shelter was closed when the bridge connecting Long Island to Quincy became so deteriorated city engineers urged it immediately be closed to prevent a deadly accident. The worst damage requiring the bridge to close was found on the underwater support structures during an extended inspection. With the island effectively cut off from the mainland, there was no way to keep the shelter open, and city officials were forced to close it with little advanced warning or preparation.

The city hopes a new shelter under renovation and remodeling will serve as permanent housing for the over 700 former residents at Long Island. This new shelter is being constructed at what was once a plant where transportation department workers conducted equipment repair and made street and road signs. This plant is filled with asbestos used during its construction. Much of this asbestos was already crumbling down as a result of years of deterioration and insufficient upkeep.

The renovation process involved knocking down walls and floors and ceilings, and essentially gutting the entire structure to transform it into what city officials hope will be a national model in how the homeless should be cared for in urban areas.

Unfortunately, construction in is not going according to schedule, and there is little hope the Southampton Street Shelter will be fully operational until late this summer. This means many once residing at the now-evacuated Long Island Shelter will have to find somewhere else to stay until the new shelter is ready. For some that means crowding into temporary cots in already overcrowded shelters around the city. For others, it means living on the streets of Boston, which is an experience nobody wants to endure.

One of the main reasons for the delay and overrun in construction costs deals with the asbestos abatement (removal) process. Proper removal of asbestos, as our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, is a painstaking and expensive undertaking.
Once the presence of asbestos has been confirmed during an inspection by a licensed contractor, permits must be applied for with the city department of health and state and federal environmental agencies. The work plan must be approved, and all work must be done by a certified asbestos abatement firm.

In order to safely remove asbestos, all work must be done by trained and certified workers and must be done in a way to insure asbestos dust is not released into the community. Asbestos material must be constantly wet down to prevent dust from escaping and sealed off in approved plastic containers once removed.

However, despite even the most thorough inspection, it is often not until the walls start to come down before the full extent of a problem is determined. This means extra work, extra time, and extra money, in many cases. While planners try to rely on blueprints from when the building was designed, many old buildings in Boston have been renovated numerous times, and those changes were never properly recorded on updated blueprints.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional resources:

Boston unveils new shelter to house homeless, March 27, 2015 More Blog Entries:

EPA: Asbestos Clean-Up in Mining Town Homeowners’ Responsibility, August 17, 2014., Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog