Dumpster With Asbestos Warning Left In Detroit Neighborhood

Illustration of potential asbestos exposure in a building

Worries over a dumpster marked with signs warning of asbestos prevail in a Detroit neighborhood. The dumpster was left in the middle of the street by a city contractor weeks ago after authorities demolished a house on May 12.

The house was located at 5151 Burns St., but is now a vacant lot. According to the city, the dumpster was put on the street to keep people in the neighborhood safe.

The signs said, “Danger: Asbestos may cause cancer. Causes damage to lungs. Authorized personnel only. Wear respirator protection and protective clothing in this area.”

Mesothelioma cancer is caused by asbestos exposure. The longer your exposure, the higher your risk of developing the cancer. More specifically, it’s very aggressive and affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen.

“It actually says ‘danger’ right on the front,” said neighbor Negus Vu. “When we had to read it and look we said, ‘Wow, it’s kind of too late now. We don’t have any protective gear. We are just walking down the street.”

New Era Detroit was the one to discover the dumpster. Following this, “They [the city] put little things on the door; it didn’t say anything about asbestos though. It just says close your windows, your doors and keep your pets in. Stuff like that,” said one homeowner in the neighborhood.

Director of Special Projects for the Detroit Building Authority, Brian Farkas, gave this statement:

“In instances where the presence of asbestos is determined, highly trained workers go into the house prior to it being knocked down to remove the asbestos and place it into a specialized and sealed container to protect neighbors from any exposure.”

A nearby neighbor noticed the dumpster was closed up and wondered why. A march of protest was organized and recorded.

“Fortunately we were there to see this and film it and put it out there on social media, which brought light to the situation,” said Vu. “That’s not the only time that we’ve seen something like that. But it’s the first time that the video has gotten out.”

“The sealed dumpster should have been removed by the contractor more quickly than it was. Once we became aware of the issue, the dumpster was removed the next day,” said Farkas. “Anytime a neighbor has any questions or concerns about one of our demolition projects, we encourage them to call 844-DET-DEMO right away.”

According to the city, the dumpster was taken away on Sunday.