Draft questions for the May 9 meeting on the Martin Tower demolition (31)

(31st in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19

Informational meeting
Thursday, May 9, 6PM
Nitschmann Middle School

“It is amazing to me that so many people are reacting to this implosion
as entertainment or spectacle rather than a health risk.”
Barbara Diamond

Here’s Gadfly’s quick shot at walking through the MT process in chronological order and thinking about the kinds of questions about public health concerns we should hope to have answered at the May 9 meeting.

Ha! looks like a deposition, doesn’t it!

He has incorporated suggestions from a half-dozen followers (some copied from implosion protocols elsewhere), and there’s bound to be some repetition.

Let’s consider this a “draft.”

Now that you’ve seen it, please make suggestions.

If you don’t see your question or concern covered here or covered adequately here, let Gadfly know.

Gadfly would hope to publish some “final” version revised on the basis of further follower ideas around mid-day Monday so that City officials might have time to consider answering our questions at or even before the Thursday meeting.

Preliminary Planning:

  • What options besides implosion are available for demolition?
  • Why (according to the newspaper) is implosion used only 1% of the time?
  • What factors (time, cost, efficiency, geography, etc.) made implosion the best option for MT?
  • Where did potential health hazards factor in to the decision? Is it fair to say that other options would provide less of a health hazard?
  • Was the City involved in the planning decision? If so, name those City officials involved. If so, what role did the City play in the decision? If so, did the City have a veto power?
  • Was there any disagreement about the decision to use implosion among any of those consulted in the planning decision? If so, who and for what reason?
  • Is it too late to choose another option for demolition?

The Regulatory Process:

  • What Federal and State laws, regulations, and guidelines govern implosions?
  • What Federal and State approvals had to be obtained? What offices, where located, and who were the principal government agents consulted and responsible for approvals?
  • What City laws, regulations, and guidelines govern implosions?
  • What City approvals had to be obtained? What City offices were consulted and were responsible for the approvals? Who were the key figures in the approval process?
  • What information had to be submitted to the City in order to obtain approval?
  • Were there any disagreements or concerns voiced by City officials during the approval process? If so, who and for what reason?
  • What Federal, State, and City laws, regulations, and guidelines specifically relate to health concerns? Where in the regulations are health concerns addressed?
  • Did the City do its own background check on Controlled Demolition, Inc.? Did the City solicit references? If not, why not? If so, were there any concerns or, more importantly, “red flags”? What was their last job similar in nature and scope to Bethlehem? Who was responsible for the vetting of CD?
  • Did City officials meet with the developer and/or CD during the approval process? Elaborate.
  • Did City officials research prior implosions by CD for health protocols and health consequences? Did CD provide testing data post-demolition in previous cases?
  • Are there any City officials with prior expertise or experiences in implosions? On what did they depend for their judgments?
  • What in the history of demolition in Bethlehem, imploded or otherwise, was pertinent to consideration of MT?
  • What pertinent independent general studies of the health consequences of implosions were studied by the City?

Possible contaminants:

  • Is there any asbestos on site? What tests have been done? Where are the results available? Is there independent verification of what asbestos is onsite? If there is asbestos, what will be done to control it?
  • Are there other contaminants onsite? What are they, and what are their health effects?
  • What will the fallout, the “dust” that the implosion raises contain?
  • Will the developer remove and safely dispose of any building components containing lead and other known contaminants before demolition?
  • Has a fallout zone been determined? Where will the fallout be most intense? How far will the fallout spread?
  • Will there be tests to determine the range and intensity of the fallout? If so, who will do them? Will there be independent tests? Where and when will the test results be available?
  • Will there be tests of indoor air quality?
  • What health effects can we expect from “normal” fallout? What is a worst-case scenario? Are there long-term independent studies of fallout health consequences after implosions?

Preparation of the townspeople:

  • Should people be worried about health consequences? If so, what should they do to avoid or to mitigate those consequences?
  • Should people with certain health conditions take certain precautions or avoid the area for a period of time?
  • Do you recommend face masks?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that community residents within the fallout zone are provided with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums and “tack mats,” which remove dust from shoes as individuals enter the home?
  • Should homes be sealed up?
  • Will dust lay on cars, outdoor furniture, and so forth, and, if so, should anything be done?
  • Should people be told to avoid lawn mowers, blowers, etc., for a time – things that stir up the dust?
  • Should people be kept off the Little League fields, off the Golf course, out of Burnside, from shopping at Lowe’s, and so forth, for the day?
  • Should people be advised to restrict any kind of activity or to avoid any locations?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that residents, community organizations, faith-based organiza­tions, and city agencies are fully informed about the potential health hazards from dust from the demolition and who to contact if they believe they have been exposed?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure training of community block monitors to assist residents with questions and home safety measures?

Demolition day operation:

  • Who is in charge of the operation that day? Who is calling the shots? Does the City have any say in the operation? What officials will be on site?
  • What factors will determine that the demolition is “a go”?
  • What factors would determine a delay or a cancellation of the demolition?
  • What could go wrong? What could seriously go wrong? What is a worst-case scenario?
  • Is wind speed and direction a factor in whether to go or not? Is there such a thing as a desirable and undesirable speed or direction? Or is it “anything goes”?

Post-demolition testing:

  • Will there be tests to determine the range and intensity of the fallout? If so, who will do them? Will there be independent tests? Where and when will the test results be available?
  • In addition to air-quality tests, will there be seismic monitoring, to determine possible impact on building foundations and so forth?
  • Has the city made arrangements for independent testing of the streets and sidewalks surrounding demolished property to measure the impact of demolition and debris removal on the local environment, and to repeat such tests when clearing the site has been completed?

Post-demolition clean-up:

  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that all sidewalks, streets, and parking lots in the fallout zone are swept immediately after the demolition and again when debris has been removed?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure the developer will cover all dust & debris on the demolition site so it will not be carried off by wind or rain AND require it all to be completely removed as rapidly as possible?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that two inches of topsoil are removed and replaced on all exposed ground within the fallout area?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure the developer has established procedures for safe removal of all debris from demolished buildings, including use of hoses to suppress dust and covering trucks?
  • Do we have to wait for rain to be totally safe?
  • Will it be safe to use the Little League fields, play golf, visit Burnside, use compost, and etc.?

Long-term view:

  • People will eventually live, work, visit at the MT site. What safeguards will be put in place to protect their health?
  • Are we learning anything in this process about such things as City-citizen communication and the efficacy of our various laws, regulations, and guidelines that we would want to change as a result of this MT experience?

Gadfly reminds followers that email links to the Mayor and City Council are on the sidebar for easy access. If it is not obvious, the reason Gadfly has been including this footer is to suggest that if you have public health and safety concerns and concerns about tardy City communication (follow-up information was promised mid-April), that you communicate those concerns directly and powerfully to your public officials.

One thought on “Draft questions for the May 9 meeting on the Martin Tower demolition (31)

  1. Even if the meeting format welcomes Q&A, the real question is why we have to ask these questions. Why didn’t the city do the research and post the answers online?

    The primary job of a municipality is protecting the health, m safety, and wellbeing of its people, so where is the department of health on these issues?

    Having an experience company doing the demolition is great, but are they ready & willing to follow the advanced protocols developed in Baltimore? Or are they experienced at doing things the wrong way?

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