Residents Worried After Seeing Asbestos Warning Signs Outside Abandoned Factory

"Who’s going to say that five years down the road I’m not going to have asbestos in my lungs?"

What to Know

  • Work at the Avon Sole Company factory in Holbrook, Massachusetts, shut down eight months ago after asbestos violations were found.
  • Several Holbrook residents say they're concerned after more than a dozen signs were posted warning about asbestos in the factory.
  • Holbrook residents say they've tried to get answers from town, state officials for months, but haven't been successful.

Several Massachusetts residents say they’re concerned after finding more than a dozen signs outside an abandoned factory that warn of asbestos and cancer, an issue that’s prompted attention from both town and state officials.

The signs, which are posted around the former Avon Sole Company factory at 55 High St. in Holbrook, warn that asbestos "may cause cancer," and "causes damage to lungs." The signs also recommend wearing "respiratory protection and protective clothing," in the area.

"I was woken up to two gentlemen outside on the sidewalk in blue hazmat suits,” said Lisa MacCallum, who lives across the street from the abandoned facility. "Who’s going to say that five years down the road I’m not going to have asbestos in my lungs?"

MacCallum and her neighbors said they’ve tried to get answers from both town and state officials for months, but haven’t been successful.

"We’ve called the DEP over and over. We’ve called Holbrook Board of Health. They say, 'Our hands are tied,'" said Lisa DeMarco-Topping, who lives near the old factory. "What’s going to happen 20 years from now? Say, 'Oh, that lady died of cancer.' From what? Because no one will remember."

The Town of Holbrook said it hasn’t been involved in the issue since it shut down work at the abandoned factory eight months ago.

In a letter dated Dec. 7, 2017, the Town of Holbrook’s building inspector wrote: "Please be advised that this department has been notified by MASS DEP as to the serious violations regarding asbestos. Upon receipt of this order, please be further advised this notice is a STOP WORK ORDER…."

The letter, which was signed by the town’s building commissioner, Daniel F. Moriarty Jr., was sent to High Street Cabinet Shop LLC in Chelmsford.

The property owner could not be reached for comment.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said it recently approved the property owner’s new plan to remove asbestos but didn’t know when work would resume.

Contact Us