Hazel Crest

Letter: Suburban Workers Worry About Asbestos Exposure

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Employees in a Chicago suburb filed a complaint with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency saying that a contractor used unlicensed laborers to perform an improper asbestos abatement at a building that houses a police department.

The group of Hazel Crest village employees who work at the old Village Hall building are concerned they may have been exposed to asbestos during pre-construction work performed at the building last month.

The employees sent the complaint letter to the state agency anonymously earlier this month.

“We are writing this letter anonymously so that we don’t get fired for reporting this violation…” the complaint says. “Please help us. We want to live a healthy and long life. They are taking this away from us.”

The state EPA confirmed to The Daily Southtown that it received the complaint and that it was referred to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability.

The complaint letter says employees at the old Village Hall insist that an abatement happened in early December and that they weren’t notified. The village didn’t take any safety measures to protect employees, according to the complaint.

Dante Sawyer, the village manager, said he received a copy of the complaint. He insisted the claims are false, denying that asbestos abatement had occurred.

Sawyer noted that Hazel Crest had begun the process of renovating the old Village Hall, which houses the police department. But an environmental assessment detected the presence of asbestos and an air quality inspection found air levels were below the permissible exposure limit for asbestos.

The actual asbestos abatement, during which the employees must be removed from the building, was scheduled to begin Thursday, Sawyer said. It's expected to be completed within seven business days.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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