IG: LHA North Common Asbestos/Lead Allegations Untrue

LHA Executive Director Gary Wallace

There is no evidence asbestos or lead paint was improperly handled during the Lowell Housing Authority’s 2008 renovation of the North Common Village complex, state Inspector General Glenn Cunha declared in a letter to LHA Executive Director Gary Wallace.

In January, former city Building Commissioner Robert Camacho said during a radio interview on WCAP that, because work on the 132 units began without the LHA first pulling building permits, testing was not done to determine if the units contained asbestos and/or lead paint.

He added, given the age of the buildings (more than 70-years-old), he assumed the units contained asbestos and lead paint.

Cunha’s letter states his agency and the FBI began an investigation into the asbestos and lead paint allegations in February in which they “conducted several interviews, reviewed numerous documents, and retained an independent laboratory to test materials that allegedly came from NCV and that allegedly contained asbestos.

“As a result of the investigation, it was determined that the allegations were unfounded,” Cunha wrote.

He added the evidence supports the LHA’s contention from the beginning that they had removed and disposed of both the asbestos and lead paint prior to the start of the 2008 renovations. The LHA provided Cunha’s office with a contract from September 14, 1988 with Northern Asbestos Abatement Company, the company that handled the job.

The investigation also revealed lead “was removed and disposed of properly in 1999 and 2000 in all 536 NCV units. Moreover letters of full deleading compliance were sent to the LHA by ATC Associates, Inc. in the summer of 2000.

“Based on this investigation, the MA OIG concludes that the allegations of illegal removal and disposal of asbestos and lead at the NCV complex have no evidentiary basis.”

Read the IG’s letter here: LHA

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