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'Bathroom upgrades' turns out to be dangerous asbestos removal at Rockland apartment complex

by: Robert Goulston Updated:

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ROCKLAND, Mass. - A dangerous health hazard has been uncovered by tenants who thought their apartments were just undergoing bathroom upgrades.

The state is now involved and shut down the asbestos removal project while they investigate.

“They never mentioned asbestos, no mention of asbestos ever,” Melissa Ladd told Boston 25. “I brought nothing because they said 10 days.”

She’s dumbfounded how a bathroom upgrade project turned into nearly a month of being out of her apartment.
        
Spring Gate Apartments in Rockland, owned by First Hartford Realty Corporation out of Connecticut, sent a letter to residents on April 5, saying they were pleased to announce renovations that "includes bathroom upgrades."

The letter also said some tenants would have to "vacate your apartment for up to ten (10) days."

Then, it went on to say "you will not be able to access the building or your unit," and the "the construction team will cover your furnishings and clean-up all construction debris."

“It says 10 days, no mention of asbestos she said ‘yes, pack enough for 10 days,’" Ladd explained.

One tenant called the Department of Environmental Protection when the bathroom upgrade project looked more like asbestos removal.

The DEP told Boston 25 News it ordered the work to stop.

In a letter to residents, the DEP said there were several potential violations including "improper containment" and "asbestos-containing debris outside of work area without proper containment and exposed to ambient air." 

Several residents told us off camera they are worried about everyone’s health.

The complex told Boston 25 in a statement, "Spring Gate continues to work closely with DEP on on-going tests and abatement procedures" and "we have moved residents in the affected building to temporary housing."

Melissa says her temporary housing is fewer bedrooms for her three kids, and the unknowns about the impact of the asbestos has her seeking legal advice.

“I would have looked into the asbestos situation because I've been here for 9 years and there have been many times that they've come in and done work on the walls, the floors, the ceilings,” Ladd said.

The state says asbestos violations can turn into thousands of dollars in penalties.