CHELSEA, MASS. (WHDH) - Chelsea residents are demanding state officials move a pile of debris containing hazardous asbestos away from their homes — and are outraged it was dumped their without their knowledge.
“Shame on them. Like why us? I get it, we’re a low income community but really, us?” said Katherine Zabaleta-Alvarado, who lives 100 feet from the dumping site.
“We’re humans. And we have rights. I think they are violating our rights,” said Elizabeth Alvarado, Katherine’s mother.
The debris came from a bridge construction project on the Lynn/Saugus line, and the Department of Transportation dumped it at a state-owned clover-leaf ramp area next to Route 1. The debris is covered with large white tarps with signs warning of “danger” from asbestos.
“This pile of asbestos and construction debris being dumped in Chelsea for a project not even in Chelsea by a state agency is a clear example of environmental racism and environmental justice,” said Maria Belen Power of environmental advocacy group Greenroots. “This would never happen in a community that was white and wealthy and with political power.”
Gov. Charlie Baker pushed back on that.
“I categorically reject that argument,” Baker said. “On food insecurity, housing, vaccines, testing and a whole series of other issues of mitigating and dealing with the pandemic. our track record is pretty clear on the way we respect the folks in Chelsea.”
But Chelsea officials said state officials never even told them the waste was coming.
“All of us were outraged. None of us was given a heads up,” said City Council President Roy Avelleda.
MassDOT officials say they will move the debris in several weeks, but residents said their trust was gone.
“We thought the government protected us and apparently they don’t,” said Katherine Zabaleta-Alvarado. “They don’t care about us.”
The city plans to conduct independent testing near the pile.
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