Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- An EPA-endorsed plan for asbestos remediation at the former Kensington Heights apartment buildings approves the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority’s project for a comprehensive solution and to proceed with abatement and demolition.
The BMHA/EPA plan addresses the complete abatement, removal, clean-up, packaging and disposal of asbestos-containing materials at the entire site.
“This plan, developed by the BMHA in concert with the EPA, fully addresses the long list of needs for this project,” BMHA Executive Director Dawn E. Sanders said in a news release. “We will move quickly and effectively to act in accordance with the plan.
“We also want to be transparent in sharing this plan with the public and holding meetings in the community so neighbors may understand it.”
Among the plan’s highlights:
* The asbestos-containing debris outside of the buildings will be abated by wetting areas with water, cutting vegetation to remove visual obstruction, and following a grid-search system to locate debris.
* In areas with significant amounts of debris, soil will be wetted and removed to a minimum depth of two inches. In areas with isolated debris, the debris and the soil within a 2-foot perimeter will be removed to a minimum depth of two inches. Hard surfaces (e.g., concrete) will be abated and cleaned. After decontamination, testing and visual inspections will ensure all debris was properly removed.
* The plan also addresses two dumpsters left on-site by a previous contractor that contain asbestos-containing materials. The plan calls for the dumpsters to be wetted, sealed, and covered.This work has already been completed, under EPA and New York State Department of Labor’s direction.
* Air monitoring of the work area must be conducted throughout the abatement operation.
* The plan then requires abatement of asbestos inside the six buildings.Abatement work will proceed by construction of barriers at all windows, doors, and exterior openings. That will consist of two layers of plastic sheeting installed and sealed to the inside of each window opening.
* After installing the plastic, the buildings will be maintained in a sealed condition pending and during asbestos abatement. These barriers must be inspected on a daily basis to ensure there are no defects.
* Abatement will then proceed in each of the buildings, with negative air pressure installed and made operational in all buildings while cleaning and abatement activities take place. All debris inside the buildings will be treated as asbestos debris, and be disposed as such.
* An independent third party hired by BMHA will conduct air and project monitoring. Upon completion of abatement, the third-party project monitor will perform an inspection to determine if asbestos debris remains.
* Thereafter, the New York Department of Labor and/or EPA must inspect the buildings to ensure they are free of asbestos before aggressive final air sampling takes place
* Asbestos-containing tar and flashing is present on structural components of the building on steel reinforced spandrel beams and reinforced concrete columns. This asbestos is not likely to become friable during building demolition. Building demolition will take place only after removal of all asbestos components, with the exception of the exterior vapor barrier tar.
* Soil within 25 feet of the building will be removed and disposed of as part of the building demolition. During demolition, air sampling and monitoring shall be conducted at the fence line in accordance with the plan.
The BMHA announced last week it will hold a series of meetings so neighbors of Kensington Heights can better understand the new ongoing process and be briefed on the next steps toward project completion. Meeting dates will be announced soon.
The BMHA, which has had numerous discussions with EPA officials over the last several months, still needs to clarify when abatement work should resume, given the season. It also must work out details and variance approvals that the New York State Department of Labor requires.
Kensington Heights, built in 1958, has been vacant since 1980. Formerly a federal/state development, its six seven-story brick apartment buildings have stood as eyesores on 16 acres of Buffalo’s East Side for three decades, visible to motorists on the nearby 33. There are approximately 67 units per building as well as some common area space and onsite parking.