NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Health concerns at a major Brooklyn bus depot are creating some panic after a cancer-causing substance was recently discovered.
Tonight, many people are demanding the MTA clean it up, reports CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
The city’s Transit Authority Surface Transit Headquarters in East New York is a busy bus depot, with more than 500 people every day reporting to work.
Recent safety allegations have many on edge after asbestos was reportedly found inside the depot’s heating and air conditioning system.
“They’re thinking that they’re going to get hurt by this,” said division officer Willie Rivera of the Transit Workers Union.
“The Transit Authority, when it comes to worker’s safety and safe working conditions, drags their feet,” said Transit Workers Union vice-president J.P. Patafio.
Union representatives say the cancer-causing material was discovered this summer, and signs warning workers about it went up at the end of August, but they say not enough is being done since reports of it go back decades.
“We want to make sure where our members are working every day, it’s safe,” said Patafio.
Wednesday morning, Transit President Andy Byford toured the depot to personally review conditions. Officials are saying there is no health risks, and recent tests confirm that, but the union vice-president isn’t buying it.
“They’re lying,” said Patafio. “Management knows about it, management agrees with us.”
Local politicians are also calling on the MTA to step it up, especially since teenagers could see health consequences.
“There have been over a dozen high school interns that have been potentially exposed to asbestos because they have been working in the depot,” said city councilman Rafael Espinal.
Since the vents also feed air outside, Espinal is asking the MTA to not only pay for testing of any worker but also neighbors who feel like they could have been impacted.
“Well if it does have asbestos, that’s not good because it could affect everyone,” said East New York resident James Marshall.
These workers and the community are now just playing the waiting game, hoping to see what the MTA does.
The MTA says it will continue to monitor air at the depot with independent third-party experts.
An abatement plan for any asbestos-containing fabric is also being developed.