Throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, cities and towns are faced with problems related to unsafe long-abandoned buildings than need to be demolished but can’t be, due to the presence of highly-toxic asbestos.
According to a recent news article from WGCB, officials in Holyoke, Massachusetts are faced with this very problem with respect to the Essex House. The Essex house was built in 1880, and was among Paper City’s largest and most luxurious hotels. Now it is a crumbling, dangerous shell of its former glory, and the town wants it gone.
The problem is that the building is laden with asbestos. As our Boston asbestos attorneys can understand, asbestos is likely to be found in nearly all buildings built during that time. It was a cheap and effective material that was naturally resistant to fire, heat, caustic chemicals, and electricity.
It was toxic to the workers during construction, but once construction was finished it was relatively safe for occupants of the hotel. However, once asbestos becomes friable, meaning in can crumble under light pressure, it becomes extremely dangerous once again. This is due to its tendency to release deadly fibers into the air that can be inhaled into the lungs.
Once inhaled, the fibers can become embedded in the tissue of the lungs and other organs known as the mesothelium. There is no way for doctors to detect the presence of the fibers at this stage nor is there any way to remove them. At this point, the fibers can develop into a deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or other respiratory illness. Though this process normally takes between 20 and 50 years. Once a patient develops detectable symptoms of mesothelioma, he or she normally do not have much longer to live.
With respect to the Essex House, it is literally crumbling away to the point where bricks are falling on neighboring businesses. The problem is that demolition cannot be done until an asbestos abatement (removal) survey is complete and the state environmental protection agency issues removal permits.
While the state has finally approved the site for demolition, an abatement plan must be completed and contractor must be awarded the job – a job costing over $1.5 million.
Conditions have gotten so bad that fire department crews have been permanently assigned to the site to protect the surrounding community from falling debris.
While this process is not uncommon, at least the city is taking appropriate steps to safely remove the asbestos. As we have seen with owners of smaller business, many do not want to spend this kind of money or follow the mandated asbestos removal process and hire untrained workers to renovate or demolish their buildings. These workers are not told of the dangers of asbestos exposure and not provided proper safety equipment. After being exposed to the deadly fibers, these workers are then unknowingly returning home at the end of the workday covered with the deadly fibers and exposing their families to the toxic material. Again, these employers are willing to take this risk with other’s lives, because they know it will take decades for the workers to become sick.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Australian Court Awards Highest Verdict for Asbestos Exposure Case in Nation’s History, Aug. 31, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog