TODAY’S – Urban demolitions spread asbestos as precautions forsaken

Urban demolitions spread asbestos as precautions forsakenAs buildings are demolished all over Istanbul in the scope of various urban transformation projects, the proper measures are not being taken to prevent the spread of the cancerous material asbestos, according to a report in the Taraf daily on Sunday.Opposition Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) deputy Haluk EyidoIan, who spoke with Taraf, submitted a parliamentary inquiry to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning.

According to the response he received, the ministry is unable to obtain reliable information from the relevant municipalities regarding buildings with materials containing asbestos, and they are thereby unable to take the proper measures during demolitions.andldquoWhen buildings are demolished they are sprayed with hoses, which allows the particles to spread throughout the city,andrdquo said EyidoIan.

A significant percentage of older apartment buildings in Istanbul were built using asbestos products.andldquoDue to demolitions, it is unclear how much asbestos there is, to what extent it is spreading and how it is affecting people,andrdquo said the opposition parliamentarian.

However, the solution that is currently not being carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning is a simple one, according to EyidoIan: andldquoThey are saying, andlsquoHow can we conduct inspections and take the proper measures without information?and#39 Before a demolition, a team of experts could enter the building and examine all of its elements. They would determine whether or not there is asbestos, which is very easy to do.

If there is, personnel wearing special masks would remove the asbestos and it would be transported to a waste disposal facility,andrdquo said EyidoIan, adding, however, that he was not aware of any existing facility wherein asbestos could be safely stored.Asbestos, which is a naturally occurring mineral substance, is also commonly known as a harmful material that can lead to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases in those who are exposed to the fiber It was used extensively as insulation material throughout the world, although many developed countries banned it decades ago.

It was not banned in Turkey until 2010. Health experts earlier this year claimed that 500,000 people will die of cancer in Turkey within 30 years because of asbestos.

A variety of urban transformation projects are occurring in many districts of Istanbul, in neighborhoods that are believed to be risk areas especially vulnerable to damage in the event of a major earthquake. It is generally believed that a major earthquake is highly likely to strike Istanbul in the coming years.

Authorities believe that thousands of buildings cannot withstand the effects of a severe earthquake. Certain laws allow buildings in neighborhoods designated as risky areas to be demolished, even if the owner does not consent.

Critics of this practice argue that the laws are sometimes used as a way to kick poor people out of neighborhoods located on high-value land.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman