Developer’s Asbestos Assurances Under Attack
(Mesothelioma News) – The thousands of homes, shops and offices planned for the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco have yet to appear-but the dust, and a major dispute, are already in the air. Soil at the site contains naturally occurring asbestos, medically linked to deadly diseases including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
That has raised concerns among neighbors and government officials-and has sparked questions about just how safe the site and the atmosphere around it really are.
Over the coming decades, the developer, Lennar Corp., plans to oversee major construction at Hunters Point. This will include some 10,000 homes and offices, along with an arena and retail and research space. But letters between the Miami-based homebuilding giant, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and supporters of the project contain accusations of misinformation about asbestos safety.
Asbestos, whether man-made or naturally occurring, can result in disease decades after exposure, and the prognosis of most conditions, particularly mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs, is grim. Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have successfully obtained billions of dollars in compensation for asbestos victims-but medical research has not been able to save their lives.
Lennar’s track record on asbestos safety at the site has been mixed. In 2008, it was fined $515,000 by air regulators for kicking up excessive dust at the project. Currently, work stops at the Superfund site when significant asbestos is detected.
But a recent community newsletter, sent by Lennar to area residents, has put the developer and the EPA-which is analyzing asbestos exposure dangers at Hunters Point-at odds. Lennar contends that an EPA report says the shipyard project is safe. The agency says Lennar is putting words in its mouth.
“The EPA report concludes,” the newsletter says, “monitoring procedures are operating in an effective manner in minimizing dust generation and limiting asbestos exposure.”
But a March 30 letter from EPA Superfund official Michael Montgomery to Lennar Bay Area Urban Vice President Kofi Bonner, tells another story. It says the agency is still analyzing the asbestos issue and potential risks and safety concerns, and has yet to reach any conclusions.
One overarching conclusion, of course, was reached long ago-and demonstrated in all-too-many lawsuits and hospital beds: Asbestos exposure can be deadly. And careful study of the risks and how to mitigate them is essential.
This story was brought to you by the nationally recognized mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway, who have successfully handled some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits and settlements.
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