I think the asbestos is a problem

Dear Editor:

At the same time that Stevens Institute of Technology was creating the copy for their advertisements that have been placed in this paper, including stories about addressing environmental toxins in third world countries through their research and inventions, they did not control the asbestos containing dust caused by their garage excavation. This toxic dust settled on Sinatra Park and the Little League Field, went into the air over Hoboken, possibly into the ventilation systems of their campus buildings and on and on. How did this happen? It seems that Stevens was granted a permit by Hoboken although the 750 – 800 car parking garage that will face Sinatra Park (entering and exiting across from the soccer field), may be lacking the approvals that the rest of us are required to obtain before beginning construction. When I complained to Stevens about the dust, they said that they could not get a hydrant permit to wet the site down (after one of the driest winter and springs ever) and so they did nothing other than monitor the air. Stevens claims they knew that the serpentine rock that they were blasting contained asbestos, which is why they set-up air monitoring. They said they never informed the City about the presence of the asbestos because they believed that they were not required to do so. We now know that the some of the asbestos released into the air from their drilling, blasting, removing the rock and open hauling of the asbestos containing rock through Hoboken exceeded Steven’s own limits. The highest readings to date occurred on March 19 (about a week after this work started). Stevens has stated that this reading was incorrect; the second highest readings were on April 8. On April 10, I saw a garden hose hooked-up (but not in use) while the drilling, blasting, excavating and hauling continued. It was not until April 11th or 12th, I believe, that proper hydration began.

While contaminating our air, Stevens Institute pursues the purchase of the remaining waterfront properties. Stevens Institute now appears to be the latest waterfront developer to thwart Hoboken’s vision of a continuous waterfront park. In this paper, we have seen the pretty pictures of Stevens plans to extend their campus to the water’s edge from Sinatra Park all the way to 12th Street.

Releasing asbestos dust was not an accident. Stevens knew that serpentine rock contains asbestos, but chose to save money on the excavation (massive watering requires laborers, lots of water, and a water truck if a hydrant is unavailable) and possibly compromise the health of our children on the Little League and soccer fields that are nearly adjacent to the excavation. City officials got snookered on this one and allowed Stevens’ behavior to go on for far too long until the Fund for a Better Waterfront brought it to their attention when they learned that the serpentine rock contained asbestos.

Aaron Lewit


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