Residents concerned over asbestos removal

  • Growing concern: neighbours said they were not warned about an asbestos roof removal on Battery Road (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Growing concern: neighbours said they were not warned about an asbestos roof removal on Battery Road (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Work to remove an asbestos-riddled roof at a former preschool was halted yesterday, amid confusion over neighbourhood notification that the work was to take place.

Staff downed tools at the site in St David’s because it was claimed residents and a nearby nursery had been given no notice that the process would begin. The Bermuda Housing Corporation plans to convert the former preschool on Battery Road, as well as a building next door, into studio apartments.

An asbestos removal specialist said he was assured notification had been sent to residents, but he ordered the operation to cease after neighbours raised concerns.

The former preschool is close to The New Sunbeam Nursery, which caters for 30 infants and children aged from three months to four years.

Its owner said yesterday: “Across from my nursery, the housing corporation put in an application for planning.

“Myself and everybody else around here are concerned about the asbestos roof. No one has informed us of anything.”

The businesswoman explained: “I just came out to get some supplies for my nursery and the men were on top of the roof.”

She said: “I’m hearing bad things about asbestos. I don’t want my parents hearing about this and that I haven’t done anything about it.

“I just feel like the neighbours and myself should have been informed.”

She added: “If it is asbestos, let us know when they’re going to do it.”

The nursery owner said she would keep the children indoors, where the rooms were air-conditioned, until the situation was made clear.

One of the crew later advised the woman that the work had stopped.

Loren Belboda, of AMR Services, said his asbestos abatement company was contracted by the BHC, which owns the building, to carry out the job and he was told by the corporation on Wednesday that nearby residents were aware of the work.

He said: “It’s just a matter of informing people and letting them know what the situation is because people overreact when they see people with masks.

“It’s not going to be a big health issue, it’s just a matter of informing them and letting them know.”

Mr Belboda added: “You just consider other people in the area — it’s a precaution.”

He explained: “I got an e-mail from the housing corporation saying all the neighbours have been notified, you can go ahead and start taking the roof off tomorrow morning.

“I went down there this morning to start taking it off and a lady came over and said she hasn’t been notified, so I told my guys to stop working and I’m trying to get in touch with the housing corporation.”

Peggy Burns, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said advance notice was given to householders when the roof of a Salvation Army building, which also contained asbestos, was removed several years ago.

The 71-year-old added: “I’m not privy to anything.”

Denise Hollis, the president of the St David’s Condominium Association, which works with residents in the area, said: “I didn’t receive any notice or anything saying they would be doing work up there and I wasn’t aware of any asbestos.”

She added: “I would have thought they would have at least made sure we got some sort of notification.”

The BHC referred questions to the Ministry of Public Works but it did not respond to a request for comment.

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Published Jul 19, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 19, 2019 at 6:28 am)

Residents concerned over asbestos removal

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