An Extra Space Storage facility in Manchester, NH, has stopped taking new tenants because of the presence of lead.
Signs outside the Extra Space location read that “high levels of lead were recently detected in dust,” according to The New Hampshire Union Leader. The self-storage facility is housed in a redeveloped historic complex known as Mill West. The complex, completed in 1891, once was the world’s largest cotton mill.
Extra Space blames the lead contamination on construction performed by the landlord, Brady Sullivan Properties. The landlord has converted most of the complex into apartments and intends to do the same to the area now occupied by Extra Space. The self-storage operator has three years left on its lease.
“We are currently demanding cleanup and remediation by the landlord, who is disclaiming responsibility,” Clint Halverson, a spokesman for the self-storage REIT, told the Union Leader.
Until the lead danger is removed, the facility won’t rent out any of its 524 units to new tenants.
A tenant who discovered the contamination in his unit informed Extra Space and the Union Leader about it. According to the newspaper, lead dust fell onto belongings stored beneath a window installed during renovation work performed by the landlord. The storage units have metal sides and doors but only chicken wire covering the tops.
Lead poisoning poses extreme danger to children and can cause brain, blood and kidney damage. Furthermore, lead poisoning has been linked to behavioral problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned lead paint in homes and day care centers in 1978. Lead regulations are less stringent when it comes to commercial properties, including storage facilities. That’s despite the fact that storage facilities often are used to store household items.
Halverson, who declined to comment to The Storage Facilitator, told the Union Leader that the company tested the facility and found various levels of lead. At no charge, the company is offering to clean customers’ belongings when they move out.
This isn’t the first time Extra Space has dealt with lead problems at one of its facilities. A facility in Edison, NJ, was built on top of a former lead-smelting factory. In 2012, the EPA discovered dangerously high levels of lead in the soil on the property, as well as in the soil of several surrounding homes. Extra Space, which bought the site in 2001, said it didn’t detect any contaminants before construction. Following the discovery by the EPA, Extra Space quickly paid for site cleanup.
Not the Landlord’s Problem?
Marc Pinard, an attorney for the landlord, told the Union Leader that Extra Space has chosen not to address the lead problem since moving into the property. Extra Space occupied the space before Brady Sullivan bought it.
Pinard told the newspaper that his client followed all EPA rules and regulations. He said the apartments above the Extra Space facility are entirely lead-free. Pinard declined to elaborate further when contacted by The Storage Facilitator, except to say that “we’re going to be meeting together with Extra Space representatives … and walk through the space and review their concerns,” Pinard said.