The fallout from Martin Tower (19)

(19th in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19

Ha! Not political fallout. Though there surely has been enough of that, we might all agree.

So, no, not that — demolition fallout May 19.

Bad dust.

Danger to health.

Now Gadfly — who lives less than a mile away — has joked about this twice here on the blog.

What he calls “charnel humor.”  “Charnel” — good SAT word.

At the Environmental Advisory Council meeting last night Martin Romeril reminded him that he shouldn’t be joking.

Steve Diamond tried to ask about health and safety matters related to the demolition at the April 11 Planning Commission meeting on the proposed MT site design, but he was quickly advised by the Chair that the PC was not the time nor the place for such discussion.

Last night Martin pointed out with some urgency that residents were not getting good information. Listen here to his concise formulation of his commonsense concern (taking just 4-5 mins.), sharing some potentially troubling information about his contact with City officials and about the range of implosion fallout from a quick online search.

  • “My concern is for the spread of dust from a potential dustcloud.”
  • “I have shared this with a member of City Council, but I’ve been informed that City Council doesn’t care, and the City has assured us that they are taking care of everything.”
  •  “[The City EMS director] said no one from the state has talked with him about dust mitigation or anything to do with the implosion, and he’s not aware that the City actually has a plan to deal with that.”
  • “[Martin] created a map of a 1km radius [.6mi] which is always where the heaviest dust falls.”
  • “[Martin cited a study showing] a 1km radius of heavy dust, and traces of stuff up to 10 and 20kms away.”
  • “[After citing several specific examples of legitimate concerns, Martin recognized that] maybe there is no danger at all from the asbestos . . . but I’m concerned that people who are not making a lot of money of this decision are not asking questions or providing useful information to the public.”

Gadfly lives within the heavy dust zone. Hundreds, maybe thousands of others do also.

Discussion at the meeting included trust that there must be a plan, trust that state regulations must be followed, trust that the City must be doing all that it should for health and safety.


Here’s what the City says on the specially designed informational web site linked at the top of the page: “All necessary provisions to ensure the safety, health and welfare, of the public are being taken for this large undertaking. ”


The last message on that City web site was April 2 — a month ago — and really focused mainly on viewing and traffic details.

Steve and Martin have Gadfly wondering if — far from finding a good spot to view the implosion — he should stay away for the day, or two days, or seal the house.

Martin is no Chicken-Little claiming the sky is falling.  He’s just asking the absolutely right questions.

No joke.

2 thoughts on “The fallout from Martin Tower (19)

  1. Why does the City remain silent on these important questions?

    At a minimum, this is a failure of transparency; at worst, it raises a question of whether residents’ health & wellbeing will be protected from ingredients known or likely to be in the dust cloud, including lead (from paint), mold spores, fine plastic particles, and the unknown ingredients in the concrete used in the original building. Even small deficiencies in the asbestos removal process would add another set of risks.

    City officials take an oath to uphold the Constitution of PA, which includes a provision that ‘The people have a right to clean air, pure water, …’.

    Bethlehem has not seen fit to require floor-by-floor demolition as many cities do, and it apparently relies on the DEP to protect the health of people. Anyone who has any experience with DEP knows that is a joke.

  2. One more thought. In Baltimore, they learned from a project sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. One of many important points in their report was an emphasis on engaging the community in developing the plans:

    “Project leaders convened an independent panel of outside experts to assess the
    demolition protocols in consultation with community residents, advocate for needed
    changes, and review test results.… the panel met several times with
    community members to answer questions related to demolition safety, discuss
    demolition protocols, review test results and relay community concerns to the
    project’s sponsors.”

    Bethlehem could learn a lot from informed approaches like this.

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