Residents on Foundry Street in Easton, Massachusetts can rest a little easier now that the state has stopped the demolition of the former Belcher Foundry, citing the fact that the owner failed to file proper paperwork prior to starting demolition, including details on how they will address the asbestos contained inside the building.
According to an article in the Taunton Daily Gazette, the old iron foundry – once one of the top employers in the town of Easton – contains plenty of asbestos, primarily in ceiling tiles but also in some window caulking in the portion of the building that’s already been destroyed. Residents that live close to the former Belcher Foundry report that they’ve been surrounded by clouds of black soot since the demolition began, and they fear that asbestos and other toxins may have been present in those clouds. It was the residents who called the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to find out whether the owner or demolition company was abiding by state Clean Air laws.
It turns out that the site’s owner had filed for permits with the town but not with the state, said a DEP spokesperson. While the proper permit has now been filed, demolition will remain halted until environmental officials determine how to best remove the asbestos that is on site, particular the ceiling tiles. Tiles containing asbestos were commonplace in industries such as iron foundries, where they were used because of their ability to resist fire as well as their durability.
Officials told the newspaper that Massachusetts state laws demand that, in order to limit asbestos exposure, all asbestos materials be wet down before removal and that debris be placed in covered trucks, re-wet, and then removed and sent to a landfill licensed to take hazardous materials.