Domino Sugar Asbestos Removal—Raises Serious Air Safety Concerns

Domino Sugar Asbestos Removal

A leaked YouTube video has captured NY Insulation employees breaking up what appears to be asbestos in the open air on the roof of the Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The video was shot from a nearby rooftop on Monday April 8 by a local resident taking a lunch break on his roof.

On April 2, David Lombino of Two Trees Management announced to Williamsburg residents that “work will begin shortly to prepare the site for a Memorial Day opening” and “that some required asbestos abatement work will take place within the buildings on the west side of Kent Avenue.” The letter cites that NY Insulation was contracted to carry out the asbestos removal and praises their “excellent safety record.”

In the video, heavily suited NY Insulation workers on the roof of the Domino Sugar Refinery are seen removing what has been identified via asbestos removal professionals as asbestos transite panels. A number of scenes shows workers hacking away to break the material into pieces and shovel piles of the broken debris into black plastic bags. While this open-air asbestos removal is taking place on the rooftop, unwitting pedestrians, bicyclists and a kindergarden class nearby are seen trafficking the streets below

Asbestos is hazardous when inhaled. Breaking up asbestos in the open air is dangerous because when asbestos-containing materials deteriorate or are damaged, asbestos fibers are released into the air.  Fibers that are inhaled can lodge and remain in the lungs, or migrate to other locations in the body.

According to the Department of Labor’s OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) website, “there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber.” The page goes on to specify that “breathing asbestos fibers can cause a buildup of scar-like tissue in the lungs called asbestosis and result in loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death. Asbestos also causes cancer of the lung and other diseases such as mesothelioma of the pleura which is a fatal malignant tumor of the membrane lining the cavity of the lung or stomach. Epidemiologic evidence has increasingly shown that all asbestos fiber types, including the most commonly used form of asbestos, chrysotile, causes mesothelioma in humans.”

The contracting of NY Insulation has been under fire from local labor unions including Local 78. NY Insulations has been cited with numerous DEP violations and on May 16, 2012 was debarred  for five years from public works projects by New York State authorities after a class action lawsuit in which NY Insulation pleaded guilty for “failing to pay six employees the state-required prevailing wage.”

Despite these concerns, at a recent Williamsburg Community Board 1 meeting, Jed Walentas, Principal of Two Trees Management, publicly came out in defense of NY Insulation saying he has “total confidence” in the company, and that it was “better than any other bidder, union or non-union.”