Asbestos Decontamination Tents Set Up in NYCHA Playground

Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, local community activist Dashia Imperiale started asking questions about several tents that had been set up in the playground of NYCHA’s Seward Park Extension at 154 Broome St. Signs on one of the tents read, “Danger: Asbestos. Cancer and lung disease hazard.” She sent an email the other day to local elected officials and other community leaders, raising concerns about the issue.

Today she got the attention of the Daily News with a story that carried the headline, “Decontamination tents for asbestos cleanup crews erected in middle of kids playground.” Referring to the scandal over the public housing authority’s lead paint inspections, Imperiale told the News, “It’s so ridiculous… They just got in trouble for lead… So you’re going to put an asbestos decontamination chamber in a playground because people don’t know what it is?”

The playground is inaccessible, surrounded by a chain link fence. For the past several weeks, crews have been replacing old brick and caulking that contained asbestos. Workers use the tents to change between street clothes and haz-mat suits. According to a shop steward, the asbestos isn’t airborne unless you grind it, which is not happening at the Broome Street site.

A NYCHA spokesperson told the News that the tents went in the playground because no other location was available and that crews are abiding by, “stringent safety protocols . . . (to) ensure no one — residents, children, or staff — is exposed to any asbestos materials.”

The tents are supposed to be removed by Saturday.

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