Asbestos Dangers Lurk in Fire-damaged Seattle Apartments

After a two-alarm fire ripped through several apartment units on the 1100 block of South Massachusetts Ave. in Seattle this past summer, residents thought it was okay to return to their homes after being given the all-clear. But now, repair persons working at the apartment building have discovered asbestos inside the units and it’s believed that fibers from the dangerous material may be permeating the air inside.

A story aired on King-5 News, resident Paul Larson told a reporter that he believes that those who moved back in may be living with asbestos-contaminated air. Larson explained that he hired an independent contractor to investigate inside his particular unit and that that individual did indeed detect the presence of asbestos fibers. He says apartment managers have been ignoring laws that protect residents from asbestos exposure.

Managers at the Seattle apartment building wouldn’t confirm the fact that many individuals/families have already returned to their homes since the fire, but they insist that the repair work being done on site is being accomplished in a safe manner.

“All of our process and procedures have been tested, have been certified The Department of Labor and Industries and the department of Puget Sound Air Quality.” Said Ted Sitterley, V.P., Project Management, Belfor USA, adding that the asbestos contamination is limited to areas that have been sealed off to protect residents residing in the building.

Sitterley also insisted that current residents have been fully notified of the process. However, none of the apartment dwellers interviewed by King-5 News knew anything at all about asbestos removal.

In the meantime, Paul Larson has offered to pay for testing in his neighbors’ apartments, determined to prove that the apartment owners are being negligent in allowing them to return to asbestos-contaminated units. Exposure to asbestos can cause the eventual development of a number of serious respiratory illnesses, including mesothelioma – asbestos-caused cancer.

Washington State Labor did check on the work this week and determined that there were no violations except for the fact that an untrained worker was on the project. Larson says his outside contractor will arrive this week to make a separate determination.

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