Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are city hired Demo contractors failing to follow Federal guidelines and could you foot the bill?

In 2010 new laws took place that dramatically changed Federal law requirements regarding Lead based paint abatement by  contractors. This law required the city to make sure that contractors performing any work that involved the removal of lead based paint covered materials follow the federal  guidelines or deny permits or registered status to contractors that fail to meet these requirements.
Note that the cornice and windows are still on this building under demo, Federal guidelines however call for these items to be removed prior to demolition.

Recent demolition performed by city hired contractors this week, and some contractors working on high profile demolitions like 142 McMicken by CPS, have raised serious questions regarding compliance with federal guidelines and could result in the city losing federal funding and be potentially liable for fines.

Federal HUD guidelines relative to any city performed work for which ANY federal funds , say CDBG or NSP are provided to the city provide that the contractors MUST be a qualified Abatement Contractor. From the HUD guideline:

 A sub- contractor capable of providing a properly trained and equipped work force for abatement work. All workers employees to perform abatement activities shall have successfully completed a minimum of 24 hours of training in the potential hazards of abating lead based paint. Abatement contractors must possess the appropriate license or certification from the State or local government.

Abatement is defined as:

Abatement: Means any measure designed to permanently eliminate lead- based paint hazards in accordance with standards established by the EPA Administrator pursuant to Title IV of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Abatement strategies include: removal of lead- based paint; enclosure of lead- based paint; encapsulation of lead- based paint (with a product that has been shown to meet standards established or recognized pursuant to Title IV of TSCA); replacement of building components coated by lead- based paint; removal of lead- contaminated dust; removal or covering of lead- contaminated soil with a durable covering (not grass or sod, which are considered interim control measures); as well as all preparation, cleanup, disposal, post- abatement clearance testing, record- keeping, and monitoring (if applicable).

There are also specific requirements as to clean rooms and changing rooms on job sites with lead issues: :

Change Room: The area of a worker decontamination facility used for removing protective equipment prior to entering the clean room.

Clean Room: The area of a worker decontamination facility used for donning protective equipment and storing street clothes.

In fact decontamination of clothing must also take place as defined in the guideline as follows:

Decontamination of Personnel: Shall include, at a minimum, HEPA vacuuming of disposable personal protective clothing according to the provisions in 29 CFR 1926.62.

So you might be asking what do those regulations look like on a demo site? Well first of all, windows, cornices and surfaces known or believed to containing Lead based paint, must be removed and bagged. Under new guidelines  a contractor can no longer just "Knock a building down".
Dust Everywhere!!! Note there is no tarping of the area around this demolition and no daming! Meaning melting contaminated with Lead, snow runoff can flow onto neighboring property, city streets and sewers. Demolition should NOT take place in these conditions and the site appears to violate Federal standards. City inspections should have issued a stop work order in this case.

One should expect to see the workers on site in protective coveralls and using federally approved respirators. You should also expect to see the ground around a site tarped to protect it and "Dams' created to prevent any lead based dust that may fall on those tarps to not be carried off as runoff if it rained OR a water hose is being used to reduce dust.

There also MUST be someone on site daily who has taken the lead based paint certification training to oversee the bagging of suspected hazardous materials. Those materials as defined by HUD guidlines include:

Abatement work will include, but not be limited to, removal and disposal of exterior trim, windows, doors, canopies, porch lattice, electrical conduit, attic and roof vents, soffits and drainage components. Additional building components requiring abatement will include, but not be limited to, bulkheads, flashing and steel lintels at all masonry openings, porch railings and balusters, and round crawlspace vents. Lead- based paint abatement work will be integrated into the construction work and the asbestos removal work on all buildings.

Clearly, based on photographs sent to me by various preservationists of demolitions occurring on job sites recently, contractors are not following the Federal guidelines, city inspectors do not appear to be enforcing those Federal requirements and as a result Federal funds' could' be cut for the city meaning you and I, the taxpayer, could be footing the bill.

The city doesn't get a 'free pass' they must see that the contractors they employ meet these federal guildines even if its being paid for with local funds as this is now Federal law regarding all contractors. I have sent an email to Edward Cunningham and Paula Boggs-Muething requesting "clarification and documentation' that the city is in compliance with the Federal standards and that contractors are properly certified. I would like to add I sent a specific request to Mr Cunningham regarding 142 McMicken and if federal standards were being followed. He replied at that time he would refer the matter to city inspections. City inspections failed to respond to that request.

I would, ask that any Preservationists with photos of job site work being performed that does not meet the federal standard please forward it to me, (victiques@gmail.com). If the city cannot document that the federal law is being followed I intent to submit an inquiry to HUD asking the city to explain its demolition and abatement policy as it extends to projects paid for with CDBG/NSP funding. The city is already under the gun for failure to have meaningful Section 106 review, this could be the straw that broke the camels back. and seems to show a general lack of disregard for federal laws concerning lead abatement. Demolition of viable structures must be stopped.

The council should direct city officials to halt all demolitions to determine if proper Federal laws are being followed plain and simple. Perhaps they don't believe Federal law applies to them?


Dale from Avon said...

Here today gone tomorrow. These houses in the second picture are from Corryville. The one in the picture anchored the corner of an intersection long ago. Does anyone know why Duke Energy is tearing down these five(?) buildings?
The first picture looks to be of the building on East McMillan. This one may have been beyond saving. But the cornice etc. could have been.
Did you take these pictures Paul?
Thanks for the post.

Paul Wilham said...

I dint atke the photos ,taken by people driving by totally outraged!

PF said...

I'm sure you will delete this comment, but I gotta tell ya how disappointed I've become with this blog. 75% of the content is truly enjoyable to a couple restoring their own old home. However, I've had enough of these political rants that serve no purpose other than to rouse the extremists and alienate the rest of us. People like you are why folks are so hesitant to touch an old home! This was the last straw: I can't be the only one confused over the recent post shown below. Pro this, anti that, when it suites you.

Strangely crestfallen, ex-daily-reader,
Paul F.

"...the ground in any Urban city has higher levels of lead, PCB's and other chemicals than your child would ever be exposed to if a chip of paint fell.. In fact those "urban gardens' that make you feel so "green' are often planted in lead contaminated soil."

Paul Wilham said...

The facts are that most urban grounds are seriously contaminated. I work with families all the time on soil remediation issues and i recommend lead testing of small children in Urban environments.

No sense hiding these facts about lead contamination. It results in serious health hazards to children. Sorry but people who buy old houses do need to know the REAL dangers. Urban pioneering is not for everyone.

Gardens can be safe, but most are not, which is why you need to learn how to make your soil safe. Your local extension program can educate you on what to do and how to do it.

As a restoration consultant and preservationist I believe the truth serves the best interest of our community and I would NEVER sugarcoat owning an old house, it is not for everyone.