Demolition work has been stopped for a month on a Langley City development site after WorkSafe BC found that a contractor was using unsafe practices when handling potentially asbestos-laden materials.
Two houses were set to be demolished in the 5300 block of 198th Street, in an area where many older homes are being knocked down and replaced with condos and townhouses.
But a May 24 inspection report by WorkSafe BC found that asbestos safety procedures weren’t being followed.
The two houses were both built in 1970, and asbestos was widely used in building materials in B.C. until the early 1990s.
Because asbestos fibres can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma when they are inhaled, demolishing older buildings requires special procedures to ensure workers aren’t exposed to asbestos dust as they break down drywall and other materials.
Demolition work on the first of the two house was to start on May 21.
But when the WorkSafe inspector arrived on May 24, they found multiple problems, including drywall remnants on the ground and piled up with debris, along with vinyl floor tiles, roof vents were not sealed to keep in dust, some doors and windows were not effectively sealed, and there was no evidence that the suspect debris outside had been contained properly.
A stop work order was posted on the temporary fencing around the property and demolition work was brought to a halt.
During a June 6 follow up inspection, a representative of the contractor, Legends Contracting, told the inspector that the building had already been damaged by trespassers who had torn up ceilings and walls in an attempt to steal copper pipes and wiring.
Drywall debris has “cross-contaminated all other surfaces and materials in the building,” the report said.
An independent, third-party inspection found that drywall had already been torn down throughout the building, including whole areas where walls had been stripped to the studs, the report said.
There was a negative air unit – which prevents air from venting out of a home being demolished – but it was not running.
Drywall and vinyl flooring taken from the debris piles did not show evidence of asbestos content, the report said.
As of June 24, the stop work order was still in place, and a WorkSafe BC spokesperson said the agency was working with the employer to ensure that any potential asbestos-containing materials were removed safely “by a qualified and competent firm.”
Legends Contracting was fined $2,500 in August, 2021 by WorkSafe for a similar incident in Coquitlam. After issuing a “clearance letter” saying that all asbestos had been removed from a house under demolition, an inspection found that there was still potentially hazardous material in the house, and that some materials with asbestos hadn’t been listed in the initial report.
“These were both high-risk violations,” a WorkSafe BC statement said.
The Langley Advance Times attempted to contact Sync Properties, the developer of the Langley site, but the phone number listed on their website is no longer active.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.