Asbestos find slows work at UMass Boston campus

As the fall semester nears, a pair of UMass Boston construction projects principally aimed at relocating utility infrastructure on Columbia Point remain in progress this month. Part of the work— along the perimeter road on the eastern side of the campus — has been slowed this year by the discovery of asbestos — which can be harmful if airborne— in a soil sample last December.

DeWayne Lehman, a spokesman for the university, said this week that contamination was not surprising given the fact that Columbia Point was once used as a landfill. But the test results triggered new safety measures for workers and aggressive air quality testing.

“These include workers being required to wear personal protective equipment for the first three days whenever their work takes them into a new area where soil will be disturbed,” Lehman told the Reporter.

“The equipment includes air monitors on the respirators that test for particulates. If after three days of working in the area the air sample tests are clear, workers can choose to not wear the personal protective equipment.”

In addition to the work along the perimeter roadway, crews are currently working in a parking lot right side of the end of Mt. Vernon Street, where the university’s first-ever residence hall will be built.

“Construction crews in that area are working to relocate some utilities under the parking lot that serve our neighbors (i.e., JFK, archives) so that the area can be turned over to the contractor this fall for construction of the residence hall,” said Lehman.

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