The Warren based Den-man contractors demolished a home on 14444 Flanders, even though they knew that the home contained dangerous asbestos particles. David Macdonald, a contractor for Den-Man oversaw the demolition. When companies demolish buildings with asbestos the asbestos materials should be demolished first. The city was not informed until long afterwards.
Even though there is only one other family living on 14444 Flanders, there are many other homes within the area. The residents of the area were unaware of the demolition.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral, but until the 1970s asbestos was widely used, people even worked in asbestos factories. It is still in old homes today. It was used for tiles. When broken up, asbestos particles go into the air. Since the particles are so tiny they can get into your lungs and cause cancer and other diseases.
Not only did the home contain asbestos, but it also contained other dangerous and hazardous things such as paint cans and tires.
There is an investigation of the incident by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. They claim that Den-man failed to remove asbestos prior to the demolition and dispose properly of the debris.
The Den-Man contractors “will most likely never work in the city’s demolition program again,”
Neither Mr. Macdonald nor Dem-Man did not comment on the incident.
Mr. Macdonald left the company the next day.
Detroit Health Department Director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun warned no other companies to hire Mr. Macdonald, saying that anyone who hired him would not be permitted to demolish homes in the city anymore. A company called Smalley construction hired him, but fired him quickly.
“The demolition of homes that have not undergone proper abatement poses health and safety risks,” Khaldun wrote to Land Bank and DBA leadership. “Such demolition(s) could also violate legal frameworks.”
Many emergency demolitions occur each year within the City of Detroit in which the companies use a wetwet process that minimizes dust. However, the house on 14444 Flanders was not an emergency and had no immediate threat to the public. Since the house had asbestos the threat was greater when the home was demolished.
Abatement is not required for emergency demolitions. But extra precautions are used, including air monitoring and trailers in case one of the workers needs treatment.
Many of the residents are concerned for their safety as well as the safety of their families. Cooper has lived in the area for many years and has raised her family.
How long is that stuff in the air?” Cooper said, pointing to a window in her living room. “The neighborhoods? They ain’t worried about us. They not worried about the folks that live here. The city, when they have these contractors, they should make sure they follow the rules because no matter how tight that window is, dust is going to get in.”
Nick Schroeck says that it is discouraging to see another contractor not perform the right abatement.