An expansion project at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport has nearby residents concerned for their health after learning that truckloads of asbestos-containing dirt were transported to a landfill. The asbestos was discovered approximately two weeks ago, but since then, airport spokesman Greg Meyer has urged the airport’s neighbors not to worry, stating that the issue is “being dealt with.”
Meyer also addressed the stigma that exists as a result of prevalent news stories about asbestos lawsuits and illnesses related to exposure to the deadly toxin. “You hear the word ‘asbestos’ and you think the worst, but the fact is, we understand it is not airborne and is being watered, and contained, and trucked away as quickly as possible,” he said.
Despite the airport’s response to the discovery, neighbors have expressed their discontent with the situation. Jimmy Childers, whose property in Melaleuca Gardens abuts the expansion site, said that he was “shocked,” adding, “They are spending millions on the airport and doing nothing over here.”
The mayor of Dania Beach, Marco Salvino, is looking for more to be done to ensure the safety of his constituents. “We want the ground tested around here to make sure the residents and children are safe,” said the mayor, who also lives in the neighborhood.
Asbestos was banned in the 1970s, but many buildings that were built prior to that decade contain the toxic mineral, complicating demolition and renovation projects where it is present. The source of the asbestos found at the expansion site is unknown, but, as long as the contaminated material is handled by certified professionals, the public is not at risk. However, the possibility of contracting a serious asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma, is something that many people rightfully fear. Mesothelioma has a high mortality rate, with only 10% of those who develop the disease surviving for five years beyond their diagnosis.