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Asbestos at 25 AZ Schools Spurs Fines

Thursday, February 21, 2013

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Six Arizona school districts face fines totaling $94,575 for violating federal asbestos rules at 25 schools, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced.

The schools—where more than 15,000 children attend—have since completed compliance work to avoid or reduce many of the federal fines levied against them, according to EPA's Region 9 office based in San Francisco.

Arizona Schools
http://www.ajusd.org/ (left); http://www.vernon.k12.az.us/

EPA fined Apache Junction Unified School District (left) $21,675 and Vernon Elementary School District (right) $2,700 for violating asbestos regulations. The problems have been remediated.

The schools were found to be in violation of provisions of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act after inspections performed in 2011, EPA said Tuesday (Feb. 19).

Hazards Uncovered

EPA inspectors discovered numerous violations, including failing to inspect facilities for asbestos containing materials, failing to re-inspect campuses with known asbestos containing materials, and failing to have an Asbestos Management Plan.

“Asbestos in schools has the potential to harm the health of students, teachers, and maintenance workers,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

“EPA takes these violations seriously, and we are satisfied the schools have now conducted inspections and put their asbestos plans in place.”

asbestos on beam
denr.sd.gov

Asbestos, shown here on a ceiling beam, is a mineral fiber commonly used in construction materials. Federal law requires asbestos inspections in schools.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used in a variety of building construction materials. When disturbed by repair, remodeling or demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other serious health problems.

Schools at Issue

Each school district was permitted to subtract properly documented costs of complying with the regulations from the penalty amount, EPA said. The consent agreements and final orders are available by clicking on the school district name below.

Asbestos Laws for Schools

Federal law requires both public and non-profit private schools to conduct an initial inspection using accredited inspectors to determine if asbestos-containing building material is present at the school and to develop a management plan to address any asbestos materials found, according to the EPA.

Schools are also required to appoint a designated person who is trained to oversee asbestos activities and ensure compliance with federal regulations.

Further, schools must conduct periodic surveillance and re-inspections of asbestos-containing building material, properly train the maintenance and custodial staff, and maintain records in the management plan.

Local education agencies must also keep an updated copy of the management plan in its administrative office and at the school. The plan must be made available for inspection by parents, teachers, and the general public, according to federal law.

   

Tagged categories: Asbestos; Building materials; Enforcement; EPA; Regulations; Schools

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