Hartford School Officials Close School During Unexpected Asbestos Abatement Project

Nearly once a month we report on concerns of asbestos in public schools across the U.S. In January, a Massachusetts school was faced with asbestos abatement issues after a fire. Now, a school in Connecticut had to close its doors to students and staff this month after asbestos was found during a locker removal project.

According to a community notice posted on the Hartford Public Schools web site, workmen found asbestos at the Museum Academy at Wish, the Wish School, during a renovation project. To manage the asbestos, the school officials were proactive and took the health of the school community into consideration and decided to close the schools for two days, April 17 and April 18.

“Since the exposure did not occur until the lockers were taken down on Monday [April 10], no students, staff and families were affected,” the officials noted in the alert. “In addition, there is no concern about the safety of students and staff once the asbestos debris is removed.”

Asbestos is a human carcinogen that has been linked to various cancers, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, when the fibers are inhaled or ingested. Although not everyone exposed develops these diseases, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that there is no safe level of exposure.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), a provision of the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires local education agencies to “inspect their schools for asbestos-containing building material and prepare management plans to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards.”

In the case of identified asbestos at schools, the EPA encourages “in-place management.” The officials at Wish Academy are commended for the quick action and total removal of the asbestos found in the insulation behind the lockers.

In an April 18 notice posted on the website from Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, it was reported school would resume, as initially planned, on April 19. The notice reported the school officials received clearance from the State Department of Health following the asbestos abatement. Torres-Rodriguez said there is no concern about the safety of students and staff after the asbestos debris was cleared and air quality tested.

“Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students,” said Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.

If you are concerned about asbestos in your child’s school, contact your school administrator. According to the EPA, your local school district/local education agency must nominate a “designated person” to perform and delegate, if necessary, the management of asbestos in a school building. This person should be able to address any specific concerns you have about management of asbestos in your child’s school.

When it comes to asbestos-related condition, you need a strong and experienced advocate to fight for your rights. Set an appointment with our trusted asbestos attorney at Belluck & Fox, LLP  today. You can also visit us at NYC, Woodstock, Rochester and Albany.