BAYONNE - Residents living in the shadow of the Bayonne Bridge say the sight of construction workers dressed up in hazmat suits has them wondering if they are at risk.

The Port Authority insists the work is not a danger to the public and that the protective gear is a precaution.
Regardless, residents like Shawn Fenlon say there is cause for alarm. "With the respirators and everything...and we're like, 'What about us?'"

Numerous residents have seen workers in hazmat gear removing panels from underneath the roadway leading to the bridge. Officials say it's all part of the "raise the roadway" project, and residents say it has taken a toll.

In a statement the Port Authority says, "In this instance, a Tyvek suit and mask was utilized to protect the worker investigating a buildup of bird droppings in an area (crawl space under the overpass) that was not frequently accessed... This area will be cleaned and prepped for the next phase of construction."

The agency did say the area was sealed off when the work was ongoing and would be closed off during similar work.

Residents say it's been open, accessible and a mess from bird droppings was left behind.

"You feel helpless," says neighbor Brian Cotter. "Like everything you try to get done they haven't done anything."

There is lead in the old bridge construction, but the Port Authority says lead is not the reason the hazmat suits were worn.

Residents tell News 12 New Jersey they were not given a warning about what might be going into the air.