Last month, a seven-alarm fire turned a large mill near the city of Worcester, Massachusetts into huge piles of rubble spread out over the large industrial lot. The owner of the lot wishes to demolish the rest of the rubble and clear the lot, but he is currently awaiting the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to work with him on the required state-approved asbestos abatement plan, before any work can begin, according to a recent news article from the Worcester Telegram.
Around a week after the large blaze that destroyed the mill, the owner submitted his plan to MassDEP for review and approval. Pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government, asbestos abatement must be performed and complete before any demolition work can begin.
As our Boston asbestos exposure attorneys can explain, asbestos was used during the construction of many buildings throughout the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as it was used heavily between the 1850s and the 1970s, and many of the buildings in our area were constructed during that time. The reason asbestos was used is because it was cheap to mine. Once mined, it could be manufactured into a variety of forms for use. It could be spun into fibers and used as insulation, or it could be pulverized into a powder and used in variety of other applications. It was even used as fake snow on vintage Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations.
It was not that the companies didn’t know the fibers were deadly. As we now know, executives were well aware of the serious heath risks associated with asbestos. But the general public had no idea, and the companies went to great lengths to keep it that way. In fact, when the public started to become concerned about the dangers of asbestos, many of these companies even ran advertising campaigns saying their products were completely safe.
Since the property owner has sent the proposal to MassDEP, the agency said it has reviewed it and made some revisions and is preparing to send it back to property owner to address the issues they have found. While this may seem like a complicated process, the reason it is like this is because of the importance of getting it right. There is a real risk to workers and the community at large if asbestos abatement is not done properly. The agency has said it does not have a timetable yet for when the project would be approved and when demolition work could actually begin.
As for the condition of the site now, there is no concern the community is at risk. They have performed a series of air quality tests to determine whether there are deadly asbestos fibers in the air around the fire site, and it was determined the air is safe. There is also a secure perimeter expanse to make sure there are no trespassers on the property. This is always a concern, because, even though much of the mill is burnt to the ground, sites like these can be appealing targets for urban explorers and antique pickers, as well as those who like to find scrap metal and sell it to reclamation centers.
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Asbestos removal awaits at Webster mill fire site, August 14, 2015, Worcester Telegram, Brian Lee
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