Question of the Day: What is the environmental harm of all the demolitions in Northeast Ohio?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 06/09/2010 - 21:06.

9/11 awoke the world to the harm caused by toxic air pollution releases caused by the demolition of buildings, as the disintegration of the World Trade Center buildings "shot pulverized asbestos, lead, concrete, glass, and other debris into the air throughout lower Manhattan". Since 9/11, the city of Cleveland has enhanced its demolition policy to require watering down buildings being demolished, to prevent the spread of hazardous particulate matter like lead dust into the air... at least that is my understanding from discussions of the Greater Cleveland Lead Advisory Council.

As I now live in an area of Northeast Ohio being substantially demolished - ground zero from George Bush's economic terrorism against urban Americans - the bulldozers have surrounded my home and are pulverizing the neighborhood at a feverish pitch, reimagining Cleveland into a toxic landfill, and I now wonder how formal is demolition policy in Northeast Ohio - is it applied well, and is it enforced, how, and by who?

Today I saw the mid-demo remnants of a house being pulverized on the block behind my home, above, and while the site seems to have been hosed down somewhat during the demolition the site clearing has made a mess of the neighborhood and the site remains largely dry, unsecured and a powderkeg of poison blowing in the wind tonight... with senior citizens and children playing and digging in the rubble for scrap, when I was there around 6PM. A quick survey of the wreckage leads me to doubt there was sufficient precaution during the demolition to prevent significant particulate matter from escaping into the environment and so into my children's lungs. I base this assumption on simple observation of the wreckage and debris strewn throughout the area, discussions with neighbors who observed the demolition and haul-away, and my understanding of particulate matter.

Seeing the bulldozers in action a few 100 yards away from my kids, I am now concerned how well this is being regulated by the cities, the county and the EPA, as their effectiveness today and tomorrow will impact my children's health forever. I do not trust our leadership to protect citizens from environmental hazards, so I am preparing for the worst. My sense is this pollution source is being treated like deep sea oil rigs, pre-Deepwater.

I suspect they may demo a house or two on my street... one in particular two doors down that the local government has neglected for years, making it into a significant hazard for the community. Unfortunately, knowing these old houses and commercial structures being demolished are full of hazardous substances - 100+ years of lead paint, asbestos and God knows what other toxins - I am very concerned they should be treated as toxic waste sites as they are demolished, but they are not.

In a rush to bury and destroy the evidence of 100 years of environmental injustice here, as quickly as possible, our government agents are using our Federal redevelopment money to bulldoze our neighborhoods and I am certain making them more toxic and further harming surrounding citizens in the process. I intend to investigate the precautions being taken to make certain the emissions from demolitions are not harming the surrounding population... in my neighborhood, including children playing on the sidewalks and even exploring mid-demo sites during the process. I believe just my one photo above shows the process is potentially harmful to citizens.

Something similar but on a larger scale is going down further downtown on Carnegie Avenue, on the Cleveland Clinic campus, as the Cleveland Clinic is demolishing and clearing a site of yet another historic medical office building. I noticed they did have a hose on the demolition site yesterday, as they were tearing the building down (I only saw one hose for a massive structure and mess), but I did not see them watering down the site today and it seemed dry and dusty as they hauled off debris, which created clouds of particulate matter blowing into the sky, which may have caused quite a hazard for those driving by and living in the area. What is in that debris....?

Have any realNEO readers observed demolitions in the region over the past few years and noted whether the sites were well contained, and the debris was kept dust-free and removed without adding pollution to the air, water and soil in the immediate area and beyond. How much pollution is caused by each demo, and so how much pollution is created each year through the region's overall reimagining initiatives?

How was Frank Giglio's house demolished - was the site at least watered down well to protect the rest of the public, or did it shoot pulverized asbestos, lead, concrete, glass, and other debris into the air throughout Tremont?

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Demos are fast and furious

  I have been screaming for years now about the overnight demolitions in my neighborhood and throughout NEO. 

Besides, the obvious environmental fall out that you outline in your post, there is the question of who is getting these contracts and why?  No one smells the mob in this wholesale destruction??

I have watched perfectly sound structures demolished at taxpayer expense and then watched as the demo liens mysteriously disappear from the county auditor's site. 

Also, where are we dumping this debris? I, for one, would like to know.

My biggest concern is the environmental impact

My biggest concern is the environmental impact - I'm concerned our leaders are too ignorant to realize pollution matters and their employees are too corrupt and incompetent to enforce environmental policy if it exists - and local businesses are too corrupt and incompetent to follow the policies if they exist... that's kinda what I suspect is going down, like I suspect is going down with Mittal.

Working on proving that now.

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recent demolition of two houses

on Cleveland's westside, one on Erin and one on Seymour. No watering down.  These were private demolitions done by Caribe Bakery on Fulton Avenue.  Thick dust in the air for days...

This is one of the homes on Erin that was demolished by Caribe Bakery:

Water?   no water!

That is one dirty house! You should investigate this demo.

Do you see the soot where the siding is gone, under the porch...?!?! Wonder what toxic dirt was released by the demo.

To renovate, they woukd need a permit and they would need to address lead and asbestos - the new EPA lead guidelines are very strict - do they not apply to demo?!?!

To demo without controlling dust should be a serious crime.

You should investigate this demo.

Did they water down the Giglio demo?

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probably not even a permit for the demo

There is a really good chance that this house and the other one that was demolished by the bakery owner did not even have permits.

I don't know if Giglio's was watered down or not.  Unfortunately, I did not find out about his demo until after it was torn down.

As far as investigating this demo, it would be nearly impossible to get the PUBLIC RECORDS since the City of Cleveland does NOT respond to public record's request. An attorney is STILL trying to get the Giglio PUBLIC RECORDS that the City of Cleveland refuses to release.  The attorney has sent certified letters and left voice messages for the Giglio records; however the city has NEVER responded to the requests and Kim Robertson, Public Records Administrator, does NOT return phone calls.  I believe the attorney is meeting with other interested persons and is going to file a law suit on Frank's behalf to get the records released.

I guess the City of Cleveland law department does not understand the definition of PUBLIC RECORDS.

Ask for public records from the City Health Department

Ask for public records from the City Health Department on the Giglio demolition and other demolitions - see if they keep track of these things, as they are responsible for managing the impact on citizens at the most important level - their health - and if they are not responsive I know the director there and intend to ask him about the bigger picture anyways - let me know what you find out.

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will do

tomorrow I will call the Health Dept.


It was demolition debris, not dust

Those clouds of dust were not ordinary "dust", nor was it "fumes". Rather, the explosives inside the World Trade Center towers and Building 7 pulverized the buildings and their contents. 

The people who breathed that "dust" were inhaling microscopic shards of glass windows, computers, asbestos, mercury, fluorescent light bulbs, coffee makers, carpeting, firemen, toilets, garbage, electrical wires, and other dangerous items.

The particles damaged their lungs, cut into their eyes, and caused skin rashes. Some of the toxic chemicals and metals got into their bloodstream, which in turn harmed their liver and other organs.

The news reporters are deceiving us when they refer to this material as dust or fumes

The WTC Dust

Most of the people who helped with the rescue and clean-up effort are now suffering serious health problems.

Suppressing the truth is lying

There may be tens of thousands of people suffering health problems from breathing that demolition debris. Some have already died, and others are suffering painful, miserable lives.

However, instead of investigating the truly suspicious people, such as Larry Silverstein, the media executives, Governor Pataki, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and hundreds of other people, many of the New York City rescue workers are foolishly blaming their health problems on the incompetence of one woman, Christie Todd Whitman, who was working at the Environmental Protection Agency at the time.


We're getting ready to be guinea pigs for the biggest asbestos implosion in this state's history," said Robert Miller, who works near Hudson's and lived two blocks from the 28-floor building for more than a decade. link

Environmental and Human Costs of Demolition

neighborhood exposure


Just another reason Frank Giglio was choking the demo dude...



Dunbar Demo slated for this summer

 Paul Dunbar Elementary (built in the 60s and chock full of asbestos) is slated for demolition this summer. It is directly across from our home.

I was invited to the last community info meeting and I asked very direct questions about how they were going to abate the hazard. I was given firm, annoyed but still vague answers.

I asked for a contact should we observe improper procedure and I was given none. I guess that would be the local EPA? ANyone know?

anyways, I haven't been asked back to anymore meetings (though they have all my contact info).

the good part of us moving back before the demo is that I can photo document the process. And I will.


   The Political Gangster

                         In fact there is a house being torn down four houses away from me, and the property

                  was not in bad shape but because some neighbors want to be big shots they made sure

                   the house came down, and people was interested in that property. Well I guess I'll be

                  breathin in more pollution than I already take in but who cares what we breath in.

Did they water the site down and control dust?

Did they water the site down and control dust? Each demo should be closely monitored and treated as dangerous - I wonder if they even inspect for toxic hazards like lead and asbestos before they start smashing buildings to pieces...? We need to know.

Clean demo or dirty? If you didn't see, ask the neighbors... I'm sure plenty of people watched as people are drawn to these things...! If the site is still a mess and open, take some pictures!

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