Illegal Demolitions Exposing Residents To Asbestos?

January 15, 2014 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Already under fire for illegally using federal funds to demolish homes, the City of Jacksonville's Municipal Code Compliance Division (MCCD) may be taking on more hot water. Now it appears that Code Compliance may have supervised the demolition of structures without properly removing asbestos and thus exposing nearby residents to the harmful material.

The properties in question include 1504 North Myrtle Avenue (1), 253 East 2nd Street (2), 129 East 2nd Street (3), 1630 Ionia Street (4) and 1477 Evergreen Avenue (5).

According to Metro Jacksonville's Stephen Dare, "There is literally no telling what kind of mortal damage has been done to the unwitting neighbors and families who were exposed to airborne friable asbestos in the demolition of these properties."

Making matters worse is an allegation that the contractor charged the City of Jacksonville for a "wet" demolition, while not following National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS) regulations. Captured in a video of the demolition of 129 East 2nd Street, it appears a small garden hose connected to a neighbor's water spigot was used by the demolition contractor to "adequately wet" the asbestos laden structure.

This isn't the first time the MCCD has been in violation of improper Asbestos removal. According to a Metro Jacksonville forum discussion on the topic, 2011 records indicate the MCCD had been cited for Asbestos violations on as much as 109 properties, dating back to 2007.

The demolition of 1630 Ionia Street included the removal of 1950s Asbestos shingle siding. This material is a well known danger because it releases carcinogenic airborne asbestos fibers when shattered.

Considering the lion's share of these illegal demolitions have taken place in minority neighborhoods, some believe this is just another form of Environmental Racism. According to, "Environmental racism refers to the institutional rules, regulations, policies or government and/or corporate decisions that deliberately target certain communities for locally undesirable land uses and lax enforcement of zoning and environmental laws, resulting in communities being disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous waste based upon race. Environmental racism is caused by several factors, including intentional neglect, the alleged need for a receptacle for pollutants in urban areas, and a lack of institutional power and low land values of people of color. It is a well-documented fact that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by polluting industries (and very specifically, hazardous waste facilities) and lax regulation of these industries."

Visit Metro Jacksonville's forum for the latest updates on this evolving story.

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