Asbestos dumpster left in Detroit neighborhood for weeks

FOX 2 learned the dumpster was put there by a city contractor weeks ago, when authorities were knocking down a home.

- A neighborhood on Detroit's east side is concerned after a dumpster marked with asbestos warnings was left in the middle of their street.

"It actually says danger, tight on the front," Negus Vu says in a video he took when New Era Detroit discovered the dumpster. You can watch parts of that video in the report in the video player above from FOX 2's Dave Spencer.

In homes built prior to 1970, asbestos was a common fire retardant but it was banned in 1977 for its link to lung cancer -- which is why this warning label was taken seriously.

"When we had to read it and look we said, 'Wow, it's kind of too late now. We don't have any protective gear. We are just walking down the street,'" Vu says.

FOX 2 learned the dumpster was put there by a city contractor weeks ago.That's when this neighbor was put on notice.

"They put little things on the door; it didn't say anything about asbestos, though. It just says close your windows, your doors and keep your pets in. Stuff like that," one homeowner in the area told Spencer.

The house that was there at 5151 Burns is nothing more than a vacant lot now. It was knocked down, according to the city, on May 12. But before they did any demolition, they moved that dumpster into place as a way to keep people safe.

Brian Farkas, the director of special projects for the Detroit Building Authority, issued this statement on the dumpster:

"In instances where the presence of asbestos is determined, highly trained workers go into the house prior to it being knocked down to remove the asbestos and place it into a specialized and sealed container to protect neighbors from any exposure."

But if the house was removed on May 12, why was this contaminated container still in place weeks later? In fact, if the New Era Detroit march seen in video hadn't happened, would it still be there?

"Fortunately we were there to see this and film it and put it out there on social media, which brought light to the situation," says Vu.

FOX 2 to call the city on Saturday, and on Sunday the dumpster was taken away, according to the city.

"The sealed dumpster should have been removed by the contractor more quickly than it was. Once we became aware of the issue, the dumpster was removed the next day," Farkas said.

"That's not the only time that we seen something like that. But it's the first time that the video has got out," Vu says.

The city says this is an effort to keep the public safe and they encourage people to make sure that's exactly whats happening.

"Anytime a neighbor has any questions or concerns about one of our demolition projects, we encourage them to call 844-DET-DEMO right away," Farkas says.


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