Many of the beautiful old structures in cities and towns across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were built during a time when asbestos was heavily used in most or all aspects of construction.
According to a recent news article from Wicked Local Wellesley, the Town of Wellesley is nearing the point when it can finally raze the building that once housed St. James Church and its rectory. The building has been vacant for years, after it the town purchased it from the Boston Archdioceses that once owned the church. The town bought the old building so it could tear it down and use the parcel of land on which it now sits alongside Route 9 as a new recreation complex for residents of the town.
The building is now fully gutted, but town officials are still waiting for a demolition permit to resume tearing down the old church. The problems began when a pre-demolition inspection discovered the presence of toxic asbestos fibers. As our Boston asbestos exposure injury attorneys can explain, once asbestos has been discovered, it is likely asbestos is present in a structure, and the property owner must hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor to remove all asbestos before any demolition can be performed. The owner and contractor must work with building department personnel and the state and federal environmental agencies to develop an asbestos abatement (removal) plan and obtain permits to begin working on removing all asbestos.
This is a complicated process that requires the use of certified and licensed contractors and workers who have been properly trained and certified in asbestos abatement. All workers must also be provided with approved safety equipment, including protective clothing and respirators or ventilators. All waste containing asbestos must be wet to prevent dust contained the deadly microscopic fibers from escaping in to the air where people can inhale them and become sick. The waste must then be placed in approved plastic containers and sealed, so they can be transported to an approved hazardous waste disposal facility licensed to handle asbestos material.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, asbestos abatement workers must also submit to a blood test and provide a doctor’s letter informing the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) the workers do not have any other health issues that would make them particularly susceptible to getting sick from working in the toxic environment, even wearing protective clothing and ventilators.
Once the asbestos abatement work has been compete, and the building been gutted, the owner must then be granted a permit to resume demolition work. This is the status of the old church in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Town officials hope that, once they get the required permit, they will be able to quickly demolish the old church and get on with building the new recreation center.
Town officials hope that if they can get enough workers to help with the project, they will be able to begin demolishing the buildings from the rear portion of the lot and work towards the highway. Officials hope they will be able to tear down the church and the rectory at the same time, but that will depend on how many workers they are able to get at the same time.
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The last days of St. James in Wellesley, September 3, 2015, Wicked Local Wellesley, by Jordan Mayblum
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Manufacturers of Asbestos-Free Products May Still Face Claims , June 1, 2015, Legal Intelligencer