Neighbors worried about health impact of old home's demolition

Neighbors worry old home demolition may cause lead exposure

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Some Southeast Portland residents are upset that a historic home is being taken down in their neighborhood. They say demolishing the 1911 home will spread toxic dust from lead based paint.

“I’m not trying to protest their building a new house here, I just want them to do it in a responsible way,” said Caitlyn Poliak, who lives next to the house on Southeast Sherman Street. She says her 9-month-old daughter sleeps in a bedroom just five feet away from the house, which has paint peeling off the window frames and the exterior.

The home has been inspected and found to have elevated lead levels.

Poliak and other neighbors want the developer to deconstruct the house by hand instead of demolishing it with machinery.

“In a demolition they just come in and crush it, and the paint gets crushed into dust and floats up through the neighborhood,” said Poliak.

The city of Portland passed an ordinance requiring homes built in 1916 or earlier to be deconstructed, but the provision does not go into effect until October 31. The developer has a permit that allows for demolition before that date.

But Mike Hubbell of Portland Development Group says the plan is to deconstruct the exterior of the home by hand, then finish the demolition by collapsing the rest of the structure into the basement. He says there will be plastic on the ground, and fabric sheeting outside the house to trap as much dust as possible. The home will also be watered down during the process.

“We not only have a safety issue with neighbors, we have a safety issue with our workers,” said Hubbell.

He said the plan is to start taking down the house by the middle of next week.

A home similar to the one pictured here will be built in its place. It will be listed for $750,000.


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