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I-Team: Apartments Tested For Asbestos After Hazardous Material Dumped In Chelsea

CHELSEA (CBS) - The I-Team went door to door with the Chelsea Housing Authority as they notified residents and collected dust samples. Seventy-year-old Doris Vega's apartment was one of the first to be tested for traces of asbestos. "Yes I am concerned," Vega said. "But I'm glad they are going to do the test."

Folks who live in the housing development became concerned after learning the state Department of Transportation dumped a pile of construction material with asbestos in it outside their window.

Alan Sundquist from CDW consultants was hired by the city to collect the samples and bring them to a state certified lab for testing. The samples are collected from windowsills and countertops and put into sealed bags.

Paul Nowicki is the director of operations for the Chelsea Housing Authority. "We want to make them aware and not scare them, but they have every right to be upset," Nowicki said.

Chelsea pile
Pile of debris dumped in Chelsea (WBZ-TV)

One man whose apartment was tested had special concerns, telling the I-Team his mom has strep throat and was coughing. He says he's not sure if it has anything to do with the pile of contaminated debris but he's worried.

An I-Team investigation found the contaminated debris and learned it was taken from a bridge project on the Lynn/Saugus line. It was brought to Chelsea months ago and the state told no one. The pile sat uncovered in an area off of Route 1 behind a public housing development surrounded by danger signs.

After the I-Team report aired, the state apologized for the miscommunication to Chelsea and promised to remove the debris.

Rosanne Bongiovanni is the executive director of Green Roots an environmental justice community group. "I feel enraged, absolutely enraged," Bongiovanni said. "I also feel like the state continues to look down its nose at the folks of Chelsea."

The I-Team obtained photos of what's in the pile including a tile and pipe that contain asbestos. Those items were included in the abatement plan approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Asbestos Chelsea
Pipe and tile containing asbestos dumped in Chelsea (WBZ-TV)

The I-Team also got a look at the test results from the state's air monitoring of the site from last month, which MassDOT said shows no health risk. The city is also monitoring the air quality and will do its own soil testing.

Bongiovanni wants MassDOT to pay for of all of that and mitigate the harm she says the state caused to the residents and the city.

Test results should be back by Monday. Meantime work will continue at the site and Chelsea tells us the removal process could start as early as next Friday.

Statement from MassDOT:

Today, May 6, the contractor started to deliver equipment to the staging area that will be used to support the removal operations.

On Monday, May 9, the contractor will begin to assemble the equipment/wash stations that will support the removal operations. MassDOT is targeting Thursday, May 12 for the required pre-removal inspection with DEP.

If the schedule for the above items holds, the removal operation is scheduled to commence Friday, May 13 and will be conducted during the day. MassDOT anticipates that 16 loads will be able to be removed each day. Based on the estimated quantity of soil, the overall removal operation will require 30 days to complete.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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