Concerns about asbestos in schools appear to be a growing problem in the U.S., and now, parents in Enfield, CT are voicing their concerns. Officials at Enfield High School began an asbestos abatement project, but parents say they did not explain the issues to them before beginning the work.
According to a Jan. 7 article in the Hartford Courant, Superintendant Jeffrey Schumann said a letter outlining the work had been sent home with students in December indicating that asbestos removal was being conducted as part of the school’s “ongoing renovation.” The work requires several parts of the school to be blocked off for the asbestos removal work, including the cafeteria, the girls locker room and the lower-level kitchen areas.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that can result in lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the organs. Removal of the material requires contractors to adhere to strict federal and state laws and guidelines to protect the safety of the workers and the public. Cordoning off work areas to prevent public access is one of the requirements that must be followed.
Schumann explained that a subsequent pipe leak in wing “A” of the building led to flooding which caused asbestos-containing floor tiles to separate. He added that he then shifted the work crew who had been conducting the previously mentioned work to manage the tiles damaged in the flooding to prevent “a dangerous situation” if the tiles were to crack.
“At this point, there has still been no communication home regarding the work being down with our children in the school, which is concerning to me,” said one parent in the Courant article.
“We get these robo-calls for the upcoming school play or something to that effect, but something as serious as this, they still haven’t told anyone about it or haven’t had the time to put something together for parents,” said another parent, who has a daughter at the school, according to the Courant.
Schumann indicated an updated letter would be sent to the parents by the following week. A letter from Schumann, dated Jan. 7, posted to the Enfield Public Schools’ website, states, “The work involving the removal of asbestos will be completed on February 13, 2015.”
In addition, according to the letter, “No work will proceed beyond the established completion date of February 13, 2015 without prior approval from the CTDPH [Connecticut Department of Public Health]. A copy of the Dec. 23, 2014 was also posted on the website.
“The risk of school children being exposed to even low levels of asbestos is a concern,” to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that reports that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. As a result, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), was passed in 1986 by Congress to protect school children and school employees from exposure to asbestos in school buildings.
Local education agencies are required to inspect their schools for asbestos-containing building material and to prepare management plans to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards.
Parents can contact their local school district to view the district’s school asbestos management plan.
If you think you are one of the victims, seek help from our respected asbestos attorneys at Belluck & Fox, LLP now. We can meet with you at our law offices located at NYC and Rochester today.