Possible Improper Asbestos Disposal Investigated By State

Contractor Hamp’s Construction Co. is part of a state environmental investigation involving the improper handling of asbestos found at five of the company’s demolition sites. The residences at the sites, which are managed by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), were demolished in the summer, after Hamp’s outbid three competitors. Louisiana state law requires the lowest bidder be awarded the job.

Correspondence between Hamp’s, NORA, and state regulators led investigators to believe that the residences were demolished without proper asbestos testing. There are records that indicate Hamp’s manager, Carlos Hampton, received positive asbestos test results from a separate contracting company, but ignored them. Also a concern is where the asbestos-laden debris ended up; Hamp’s has offered no proof that the waste was disposed of at an asbestos-certified landfill.

“We don’t have any information on where it’s going,” admitted Jeff Hebert, NORA’s executive director, who also explained that NORA has cut ties with Hamp’s and has hired an emergency contractor to clean up the five demolition sites.

There is some dispute over whether NORA should have even hired a contractor to do the demolition work in the first place. According to land trust spokeswoman GeGe Roulaine, NORA could have requested the state entity take down the five residences, which would have cost NORA nothing and would have avoided the fiasco with Hamp’s.

Executive director Hebert disagreed with Roulaine’s assertion, refuting the claim that the state would have footed the bill. According to Hebert, the state would only finance the demolition of structures that were slated for destruction prior to NORA’s takeover, which was not the case with those five residences.

Strict laws require asbestos abatement to be done by certified professionals. Renovation and demolition projects can release asbestos-containing dust into the air, and exposure to such a contaminant can result in numerous respiratory health problems, including mesothelioma.

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