Upham's Corner Online

St. Kevin's - Asbestos Abatement Work Practices

On 2/12/14, St. Kevin's construction staff appeared to be performing asbestos abatement with no protection to the community for what was falling on the ground.  The gentleman on the ground sweeping the debris was not cooperative.  Eventually Officer Roberts from Public Health visited the site and asked them to change their work practices.

Roof Top Asbestos Abatement

St. Kevin's Asbestos Abatement On the morning of Wednesday, March 12, 2014, a young man who had also been working at St. Kevin's on Saturday, March 8, 2014 without a permit, was sweeping up the debris that had fallen from the roof of 530 Columbia Rd.  He moved it off the street onto a sheet of plastic at the side of Davern Ave.

"What are you doing?"  He refused to state either his name or his company.  His feigned response - while pleasant - suggested he wasn't telling the truth. 

"What you said doesn't make sense.  That building is coming down.  Why would you have workers dressed in hazmat with chisel hammers removing debris that is obviously going to be removed during demolition?"

"Glue.  They're removing glue."  "No," I said, "they are removing asbestos."  He said nothing.  "And the debris is bouncing off the roof and onto the ground.  What if there is asbestos in it?"  He just smiled.

The Mayor's Hotline was Close to Useless

St. Kevin's Asbestos Abatement A call to Code Enforcement was picked up by the Mayor's Hotline.  "We'll check to see if they have a permit."  No amount of arguing with them accomplished anything.  "The issue is not a permit but rather safety for the neighborhood." They also suggested I call the police. 

I eventually found a number that would answer at 1010 Mass Ave and they were willing to share a number to Code Enforcement.  "If there is a lot of debris on the ground, we can ticket them for that.  Otherwise, we can't do anything."

Public Health, it turns out, is the right place to call.  Officer Roberts, bless her heart, answered the phone.  She understands, she said, what is required for asbestos removal and said she would go out to the site. 

Bilt-Rite Construction

The St. Kevin's project manager is Terry Young, soft-spoken and not easily riled.  He immediately entered "processing mode."  Universal Abatement Services has the contract for asbestos removal.  "Did they pull a permit?"  He was sure they had.  They have the license needed to pull a permit; Bilt-Rite does not. 

As I registered my complaint, Mr. Young brought up the word "friable."  "Let me see . . . There is nothing friable up on the roof."  In the world of asbestos, this means "easily crumbled or reduced to powder."  So he wasn't worried about clumps of whatever falling off the roof to the ground since it was unlikely to create the most dangerous form of asbestos - friable - which could enter the lungs. 

My perspective is different.  I have used a hammer to crush concrete and it generates a lot of dust.  What exactly were these workers doing up on the roof?  Apparently, it was important enough to NOT be allowed into a landfill but Not important enough to keep off the ground?  Didn't make sense to me especially the closer I looked at the protective gear being worn by the workers.

A couple hours later, Officer Roberts called back. 

"You did the right thing by calling to make sure that everything was being done properly."  They do have a permit.   She went out to the worksite and asked them to make a change to their work practices to make sure the debris did not fall to the ground.  She was concerned, she said, about the pedestrians, especially the elderly, coming from the church. 

"It is not proper for them to let the debris fall down to the ground.  It's unacceptable, so they changed it and I stuck around long enough to make sure."
St. Kevin's Asbestos Abatement
St. Mary's in the background where 25% of the single mothers
will come from to live "on the campus."
St. Kevin's Asbestos Abatement
Close-up of workers

Posted: March 20, 2014     Nancy J Conrad

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