Residents of Boylan Heights, the neighborhood adjoining the site of the new Central Prison Regional Medical Center and Mental Hospital, are being dusted by the airborne residual from the demolition of old buildings and site grading that is being conducted in preparation of construction. North Carolina Department of Correction and the contractor Balfour and Beatty have filed to implement standard practices to mitigate so-called fugitive dust, usually accomplished by simply watering the material being worked. They are avoiding the effort and attendant costs by letting the dust blow onto their neighbors, much as a litterbug would toss cigarette butts out the window of a car.
“They’re supposed to water the site. That’s the law in every state,” said a construction worker who did not want to be identified. “I haven’t seen watering truck one. You see trucks carrying fuel to the dinosaur track hoes, but I haven’t seen a single water truck.”
The result is a visible accumulation of greyish reddish dust on houses, vehicles – and places that are more than just a nuisance.
“There’s dust all over the houses and cars,” said Mindy Russell, a home owner on Cutler Street. My air conditioning filters are clogging up.” She has concerns about the impacts her health health as well.
“I thought I was coming down with a cold until I left town for the weekend and it cleared up. When I came back, I started coughing, that scratchy feeling in my throat.”
Another resident, a renter in the neighborhood, Leroy McAnder was mad. “I don’t use air conditioning. I’d been doing well enough through the heat by leaving windows open to let the trapped heat out my upstairs room. I have to keep them closed when those guys are working now. There’s dust all over my floors, furniture, my clothes. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. It really sucks.”
John Holley, an employee of the Land Quality division of Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, during a phone conversation, affirmed that construction and demolition sites were supposed to instill procedures to attempt as much as possible to control dust but was unaware of the situation.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I know very little about anything that you’re describing right now,” Holley said.
“I did see the piece in the paper early on that the construction was ongoing saying that the folks in Boylan Heights were upset about the project, but at that point it didn’t have anything to do with any actual airborne sediment or anything like that. The concerns seemed to be centered around the fact that they weren’t notified that this sort of construction was going to be occurring and the potential from it was what people were talking about. I don’t know of any complaints that we’ve received. This is the first mention from anyone that there was an issue there. So if you’ve spoken to people who have filed complaints and where have they filed them, I would hope that if you would encourage them to give us a call. Give them our name and number. I would appreciate that because quite frankly, short of us happening to see the problem in the course of doing a routine inspection of the site, which may or may not happen. When we make a routine inspection of a site, unless there’s a heavy wind at the moment that would show the dust being kicked up and being carried off the site, we wouldn’t have any idea that it would lead to waterborne sediment, you know, where you get runoff during a storm event and most of our best management practices and measures are focused on that.”
Mr. Holley’s can be reached at 791-4206.
If you have any photos of dust all-up-in-your-grill in Boylan Heights- please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org