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A Look at an Asbestos EPA Superfund

Certain parts of the country have been ravaged by years of unregulated industry, and the asbestos industry was responsible for much of this environmental destruction.  To help clean up these toxic waste zones, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the power to use money provided by Congress to create what are known as EPA superfunds.

oldfactoryOne such fund is the Suburbs of Philadelphia as discussed in a recent news feature from E&E Publishing.  Most people are aware the United States was for many years the world’s largest producer of asbestos and asbestos products.

For many years, Philadelphia housed one of the world’s largest asbestos factories.  The factory, which started as a boiler plant (boilers used asbestos insulation for many years), still has hundred foot mountains of asbestos and manufacturing waste that surround the area and look like salt and gravel piles we typically see on the side of a highway covered with large domes.

These days, the asbestos mountains are still there, but are covered with the tons of gravel that are there to encase the asbestos and prevent dust from escaping into the air, which we now know contains deadly asbestos fibers.  As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers have seen in far too many cases, once the fibers are inhaled, they typically take between 20 and 50 years for them to metastasize into the deadly form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma.

As part of the article, there were several photographs that show what the factory looked like when it was in operation and what it looks like these days.  There were also photographs featuring a playground that was right outside the fence surrounding the plant.  A swing set can be seen with a giant white mountain of asbestos material in the background.  There is no way a child could safely use that swing set without being at risk of inhaling the deadly fibers.

Today, with the factory and the surrounding area having been declared an EPA superfund, we can see that there is a new playground with an ivy-covered wall surrounding it.  The mountain of asbestos is still visible, but since it is covered with thousands of tons of gravel, the EPA has deemed it safe for children to use the playground.  This is not just an educated guess, as the EPA will have air quality monitors in place that actively sample the air to make sure it is actually safe.

As people may recall, and as was just discussed during the recent presidential race, following 9/11, first responders and clean up and recovery workers were told the air was testing safe, but it was later proven this was not the case.  The manner in which air testing is performed has been changed in the past decade, so the public should be able to have more confidence that air is now safe.  However, leaving the pile of asbestos covered with gravel is only a temporary solution, and it must be carefully removed and taken to an approved toxic waste disposal facility.  Before it can be taken away, the area must be tented and the material must be wet thoroughly to prevent dust from escaping into the air.

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:

A Philadelphia suburb’s asbestos nightmare, July 27, 2016, E&E Publishing, By George Cahlink

More Blog Entries:

Rondon v. Hennessy Industries, Inc. – “Inevitable Use” Standard in Asbestos Litigation, July 2, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Attorney Blog