Demolition project in East Austin raises asbestos concerns

Demolition project in East Austin raises asbestos concerns

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Fairway Street and Montopolis Drive see a lot of traffic.

Not just cars, but people--and children walking on foot.

"It's not safe. This corner's not safe right now," said Danny Perez, the President of the Montopolis Neighborhood Association-El Concilio.

"We knew a year back that there was asbestos on this property," Perez added. "The concern is why are they removing all this debris without being contained."

This vacant building is set to be demolished by A & R Demolition, which hired M and Jo Abatement to rid the property of asbestos.

Danny said, "I asked the guy that was removing, the supervisor, ask him don't you know that there's a lot of businesses. He says, well, you're going to be contained to some of it anyways, in the air. I said, really? That's your answer?"

Danny's worried people in the neighborhood are going to get sick.

"You can see the air's blowing today," said Perez.

The most common way for asbestos to enter the body is through breathing.

Larger fibers usually get trapped in the nose hairs, but some asbestos fibers are so small they can go deep into the lungs.

Sandra Orozco also lives and works in the area.

Sandra said, "I've been real light-headed, real weak and...throwing up, throwing up."

The property used to be fenced in.

Sandra thinks the neighborhood kids might want to peek inside.

"I got my four little ones...at my store, we always have little kids--5, 6, 7 and they go in by themselves, without parents," said Sandra.

Perez said, "Look, look, between now and 6 there's going to be about 30 buses coming through here."

When we first arrived, crews were piling up debris from inside--not putting the trash into containers.

This video also shows people walking right by the project.

"Now he's worried," said Perez. "It took for ya'll to come out here, so people could see what's going on. I never got a letter saying that this was gonna be happening this week...There was bad communication with the City of Austin and the neighborhood here."

Supervisors would not go on camera, but a rep with Terracon, who is overseeing the abatement says the crew were only wearing dust masks, adding once the official abatement process starts, they'll be testing to make sure levels are not dangerous.

If you develop an asbestos-related disease, statistics show it probably won't develop until many years after your first exposure.

Some research also shows there really is no "safe" level of asbestos exposure, noting even bystanders have developed asbestos-related illnesses in the past.

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