The Executive Director of the Lowell (Massachusetts) Housing Authority (LHA) announced this week that he has no reason to believe that asbestos and lead paint were improperly removed from the 132 units in the North Common Village housing projects during renovations that occurred from 2008 through 2011. His announcement comes on the heels of a similar statement by the FBI and State Inspector General’s Office, declaring that no asbestos was removed during the rehab project.
According to an article in the Lowell Sun, Housing Authority Executive Director Gary Wallace said he was pleased by the results of the report and not surprised. Still, others demand that asbestos and lead paint were both present in the complex and that asbestos abatement was done incorrectly and that the material was disposed of improperly as well.
Wallace did indeed confirm that a private company, ATC Associates of Woburn, Massachusetts, recently found asbestos in some of the crawl spaces at North Common Village, but told the media that the release of information about the findings was “for the sole purpose of distorting and confusing the issue.” He noted that he believes certain people in the community have “various sordid reasons” for trying to confuse and alarm the public, particularly the residents – past and present – who are concerned that they may have suffered asbestos exposure, which can cause mesothelioma and other cancers.
But David Mitchell, ATC project manager at the Lowell complex, confirmed that asbestos was indeed found in the soil in the crawl spaces as well as in the areas where the pipes travel underground from one building to the next. Based on its preliminary findings, ATC – which was hired by the Housing Authority – recommended that all soil in all the crawl spaces should be considered contaminated with asbestos and that the general public should not be permitted access to those areas at this time.
When Mitchell was asked by LHA Commissioner Tim Green if the asbestos in the crawl spaces put residents and maintenance workers at risk for asbestos exposure, Mitchell responded by telling him that “ATC’s recommendations were conservative and the asbestos identified does not pose any threat to workers or residents.”