In the past three years, the cost of demolishing condemned buildings in Pittsburgh have skyrocketed, jumping more than 550 percent between 2015 and 2017. In 2015 it cost on average $9,123, and just a year later, nearly $60,000. The cost has fallen to near half that price in 2017, but at $30,000, it is still triple the cost of what it was just two short years earlier.
The Pittsburgh city controller attributes this dramatic increase in cost and spending to the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD)’s new asbestosregulations, citing that because it takes the city close to a year to obtain a contract with asbestos abatement companies to test for the carcinogen, they have to treat every building as if it contains asbestos, which is extremely costly.
The ACHD regulates all forms of asbestos and requires all demolitions to have an asbestos survey performed by a licensed building inspector. If the asbestos survey shows more than 160 square feet of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM), then an asbestos abatement permit must be submitted. Once the permit is received, ACM is able to be removed and then demolition can resume. In instances where there is less than 160 square feet of ACM, the ACHD and the Environmental Protection Agency still need to be notified, even though there is no need for a permit. Demolition then cannot begin for another 10 days after the postmarked notification. Treating each building as if it contains asbestos means that permits have to be issued, abatement professionals have to remove all of the hazardous material, and the ACHD has to inspect and ensure that all ACM has been safely removed.
Demolition and Asbestos Exposure
By the mid-21st century, asbestos was used in countless applications as a building material. Many structures and homes today may still contain the carcinogen, especially if the building was razed before 1980. Roofing felts and shingles, spackle, joint compounds, vinyl floor tiles, drywall, and insulation were all common products that contained asbestos during that time period. During a demolition, these fibers can become disturbed and exposed, posing a health risk for the workers and the surrounding community. Construction workers and those who are in charge of demolitions and renovations of older buildings have some of the highest risks of asbestos exposure today, despite the heavy regulations surrounding the material.
Last month, In Point Breeze, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, residents and city officials became increasingly concerned over the state of a 100-year-old house whose crumbling foundation has become a safety hazard. An emergency grant for $20,000 was applied to tear down the house but before the demolition can begin, the borough must pay to have the property and structure inspected for asbestos, adding to the overall cost and slowing down the process to remove the dilapidated structure all together.
You May Be Entitled to Compensation
Despite the fact that asbestos and asbestos products are currently heavily regulated, asbestos is still used in the United States and violations do occur. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis, contact the experienced attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White. Our attorneys are committed to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to speak with our experts.
Bob Bauder, “Audit Addresses Pittsburgh’s Soaring Demolition Costs,” Trib Live (March 22, 2018). [Link]