Building Collapse Responders Warned of Potential Asbestos Exposure

Over a month after a deadly building collapse in Philadelphia, the city is investigating the number of responders who were potentially exposed to asbestos.

Since the collapse on 22nd and Market Street on June 5, officials have investigated whether or not there was asbestos inside the building. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Risk Management Division sent a message and Asbestos Exposure Incident reports to those who responded to the collapse. 

"Risk Management is requesting that any personnel who responded to the building collapse at 22nd & Market Streets prepare a Safety & Loss Prevention Unit Asbestos Exposure Report due to the presence of asbestos containing materials," wrote Captain Joseph Di Lacqua, the Commanding Officer of the city's Safety Office.

The report asked several questions including whether the workers were wearing protective equipment and gloves.

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that remnants of asbestos were found in the debris of the building.

Last June, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said firefighters who rushed to the collapse scene were not wearing gear to protect themselves from asbestos, which is a cancer-causing substance.

On the day of the collapse at the height of the search there were 125 emergency crews at the site, according to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Some of them worked for hours as the rescue and recovery efforts stretched for two days.

Six people died that day when a four-story building that was being demolished, came crashing down on the Salvation Army Thrift Shop next door.

Kenneth Hudson, a licensed asbestos investigator, inspected the building that collapsed before the demolition started. In his report, obtained exclusively by NBC10's Harry Hairston, it reveals there was no asbestos in the building.

Asbestos Report #1, #2

Hudson admits he did not conduct a test for asbestos because he says it wasn't necessary.

"What I see, I document, I take samples of it, if need be, if there is suspect material. There wasn't any suspect material, so there wasn't any reason for me to take a sample," Hudson said.

The City of Philadelphia has Hudson's inspection report, but refuses to make it available to the public, citing the grand jury investigation into the collapse.

City Councilman James Kenney is part of the council's investigative committee conducting hearings on the collapse. He has accused the Nutter Administration of hiding behind the grand jury rather than participating in a way that would help the committee make swift changes to avoid future disasters.

"If in fact it's determined it's germane to the grand jury, I don't need to see it; they can at least say 'Yes' or 'No' they have one," Kenney said.

Hudson said he has nothing to hide.

"I did my job as an asbestos inspector," Hudson says. "That's as far as I can comment, professionally."

Mayor Nutter's office declined to comment for our story because of the grand jury investigation.

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