Cleanup will keep toxic dust where it belongs


BP Photo by: Michelle Hirschhorn

HAZ-MAT: Visible above a specially covered dumpster, workers on the roof removed lead and asbestos May 12.

By Noah Rothman, Torah Editor

What is behind that green fence?

And why do there seem to be aliens in white space suits walking around on the roof of the old building?

And why can’t we park back there any more if demolition hasn’t yet begun?

These questions have plagued many since the fence was put up April 29 in order to separate the school from the construction site.  Students now must park in the old student lot across Fairfax Avenue so teachers can find places at school.

And some days a look toward the sky shows more than the usual helicopters and birds. White-clad workers, their heads wrapped as though bandaged and their faces obscured by masks, move around slowly on the flat outdoor surface above the old foyer.

The answer is that workers from Ed Grush General Contractors Inc. have been removing asbestos along with other chemicals such as lead, from the old building so that when it is demolished, toxic dust won’t fly into the air.

Asbestos was used in new buildings throughout the 1970’s and 80’s for insulation and fire-resistance because it does not burn, and lead was used for paint durability and color.  The chemicals were present in the tiles, walls, and paint that were built into the old building when it was a hospital, which is what it was.

“Asbestos is not harmful until it has been disturbed,” said Don Tinkley, superintendent of the project.

The workers are currently digging out the asbestos, which Mr. Tinkely said they were finding mostly in the tiles and the walls. What the workers do is seal the area from which they are going to extract the asbestos. They place down a chemical that softens up the area in which the asbestos is located. They then remove the asbestos and place it in a covered dumpster.

The reason for the cover on the dumpster is so the chemicals do not fly into the air and get people sick. This is also the reason that workers performing this process wearing white suits over their clothes.

Executive Director Robyn Lewis said chemical removal would probably take until the end of May with demolition following at the beginning of June.