They’re an eyesore in the neighborhood; unlivable homes that were pounded by the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri last summer. But demolishing them is both complicated and costly because many of them contain building materials that are full of dangerous asbestos, say city authorities.
The city’s Building Board of Appeals has identified nearly 300 homes that contain unsafe building materials and hope to begin addressing them in the next stage of clean-up, reports a story aired on KODE-Joplin. The city has posted warning signs on these homes, prompting concern by area residents who fear that damaged asbestos siding, for example, could be resulting in contamination of the air via the release of dangerous asbestos fibers, especially during winds and rain storms. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause all sorts of lung-related diseases, including mesothelioma and other cancers.
“One time or another that was the norm, was to build [houses] with asbestos siding or have asbestos insulation in it because it’s a great insulating material,” stated Jack Schaller, P.E. Assistant Director of Public Works.
Schaller says they’ll begin with the clean-up and demolition of 14 asbestos-laden houses. The asbestos abatement will need to occur first, before the houses are demolished. Schaller notes that this is the largest collection of houses with asbestos that they will have to demolish, though he expects to find more throughout the storm-ravaged area.
The Public Works Department estimates that it will take some eight months to complete the demolition phase. Neighbors say they’ll be delighted to be rid of the eyesores, which are bringing down property values and impeding their ability to move on.