ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - Next to a picturesque view of the river, workers in Hazmat suits were busy cleaning up at the Hunting Point on the Potomac apartments.
According to the EPA, several samples taken from the complex tested positive for asbestos fibers during renovation work.
The trouble began back in January when the building owners began reconstructing the complex. During a series of inspections, the EPA says that the contractor hired to do the work failed to take the necessary precautions to keep asbestos particles from being released into the air. The agency then issued a rare “stop work order.”
Now, frustration has boiled over for residents who had no idea they were being exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos.
Residents Stefanie Ackerman and her fiancé are new parents, and now they worry about potential long-term health implications for their three-month-old baby girl.
“There’s no telling, and from everything the EPA has told us, we just have to wait around for a decade or two to see if we get mesothelioma, and that’s disturbing,” said Stefanie.
The EPA says the renovation company, Chelsea Environmental, improperly handled materials and did not follow safety standards. A new contractor has since been brought in, and there is a clean-up plan. But still, many are worried.
"It's complete incompetence," said Bill Trumbour. "I Keep asking and they won't answer...How are they going to compensate us?"
"We will begin cleaning the property unit-by-unit of those who had undergone the renovations," assured Julie Chase, spokesperson for the renovation company.
Kelly Yutesler is a cancer survivor and now she also worries about what this will mean for her future:
“To have just recently gotten a clean bill of health, so to speak, and come home and well okay, now you need to concern yourself for the next decade or so, that something might come back to haunt you later – it’s very upsetting.”
The EPA is requiring the complex to sample certain apartments and areas where asbestos-containing materials were removed. The building says it has already conducted tests, but is still waiting for an interpretation of the results.
Meanwhile, residents like Yutesler say they are packing their bags:
“I don’t trust the company anymore. They had a responsibility to keep us safe when they were doing this construction, and didn’t take appropriate measures."