Plant razing raises concerns for East Baltimore neighbors

Rats, lead paint, run off among concerns

BALTIMORE - With its overgrown sidewalks, smashed windows and peeling paint, the Ainsworth Paint and Chemical Plant has become a sight for sore eyes at the corner of East Biddle Street and Edison Highway.

Production at the plant shut down more than two decades ago, but now residents are concerned over what environmental impacts it may produce when its torn down in January.

"We want to know how they're going to do it," said Terrilee Moore, who lives right across the street from the planned demolition, "Are they going to encapsulate the building?  What are they going to do to protect us?"

Even Martha Lovings wonders if she'll be impacted six blocks away.

"They should be very careful with what they do and how they do it for the people that live in this area and all around this area."

Pat Tracey has met with the neighbors to discuss how the should approach the contractor who will demolish the building.

As a community coordinator with Johns Hopkins Center in Urban Environmental Health, she says neighborhoods can arm themselves with information to insure their safety as potentially hazardous buildings are razed.

"Be in conversation with the whole process, beginning and ending," said Tracey, "because what happens a lot of times with demolition, the clean up is kind of the most important thing.  Clean up before during and after."

That's why residents here want answers before the first brick comes down.

"We want to know," said Moore, "We want to find out to make sure when they do take it down, they take it down right... that the people from the 12 all the way down to the 15 I do believe... that we are going to be okay.  We're going to be okay.  We don't want any more health hazards than any of us already have."

In the mid 90s, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered hundreds of drums of hazardous materials at the site and ordered a clean up.

During the demolition, experts are advising them to seal their windows and keep their children, pets and plants indoors.

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