Asbestos at Oceanside

New York City Housing Apartments (NYCHA) on Beach 58th Oceanside have found asbestos in a gas pipe inspection. Asbestos is a natural occurring fiber that is heat retardant and extremely flexible, but is also extremely toxic with long-term exposure. Today, asbestos is rarely used, but some older buildings may have residue of the material.

The asbestos was found on July 11th, but residents were not informed until July 23rd. An emergency meeting was hosted on July 23rd by Congressman Gregory Meeks with NYCHA to explain the situation. Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) responded to the asbestos by taking samples from 53 kitchens and basements. The tests determined that the asbestos was not present in the apartments. EHS found that asbestos was only present in the pipes, not disturbed and not airborne, therefore do not present a health threat.

There were plans to demolish the walls prior to the discovery of the asbestos. Residents were concerned if asbestos was present in the walls, but this will not be an issue since asbestos is not in the plaster. Residents should receive 48 hours warning before demolishing the walls and it will take 2-3 weeks for them to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the residents of Oceanside have to deal with all this on top of not having gas.

Residents have been without gas for over two weeks and have been forced to cook on hot plates. One hot plate is given to each household to cook their meals, which makes it extremely difficult for apartment owners to do the basics of cooking.

Tenants are hoping that gas will be restored by August 17th, but this isn’t the first time NYCHA buildings have gone without resources. “I live in Bayside NYCHA housing and we were without gas for six months! - now the elevators aren’t working,” one source told the Rockaway Advocate. Under Mayor de Blasio, NYCHA housing has gone downhill from lead poisoning in children in other boroughs to living with asbestos in the Rockaways.

All tenants have the right for landlords to provide safe and comfortable housing. People in NYCHA housing have historically been treated like second-class citizens, with lack of basic resources and disgusting conditions: “I honestly feel so bad for them, but this is nothing new! They’ve (NYCHA) always treated apartment owners awful,” one community member told the Advocate.

With Far Rockaway NYCHA housing and the non-airborne asbestos,  community members are hoping that “this attention gives NYCHA the push to change for the better” anonymous source told the Rockaway Advocate.