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October 20, 2018

Orange County school, closed because of asbestos, is back in session

School is in session again at an Orange County school that was closed for months after asbestos was discovered.

Oak View Elementary was one of three campuses closed when the hazardous mineral fiber was discovered during an 11-campus modernization project in July.

The closures displaced more than 1,600 students, who were being bused to eight other campuses in four school districts at a cost of $50,000 a week.

Most students returned to Oak View Elementary School in Huntington Beach on Tuesday. Lake View and Hope View elementary schools remain closed.

Oak View students in grades 3 through 5 returned to their original classrooms in portable buildings. Second-graders are being taught in portable buildings that had been used for teacher meetings and after-school programs.

First-graders will attend Sun View Elementary School and kindergartners will remain at Pleasant View School, both in Huntington Beach.

Since Oak View was closed in October, more than 600 Oak View students, including kindergartners, have been attending classes at Village View Elementary, Oak View Preschool, Pleasant View School – all in the Ocean View district – and Walter Knott Elementary in Buena Park.

The district is working on a timeline for asbestos cleanup at Oak View.

According to district documents, air samples taken at Oak View in October did not contain asbestos levels above standards set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings including schools.

At a board meeting last week, several parents of Oak View students said they were worried about their children falling behind academically while attending temporary schools.

Twitter: @NicoleShine

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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Orange County school, closed because of asbestos, is back in session

Asbestos tests clear other schools in Ocean View district

Asbestos testing has revealed that most of the campuses in a beleaguered Orange County school district pose no threat to students and will remain open.

Three elementary schools in the Huntington Beach school district, however, will remain closed for as long as two months while asbestos is removed from classrooms.

The campuses were closed early this month when asbestos was detected in classrooms during a modernization project. The closures left parents furious and forced more than 1,600 students to be bused to classrooms in eight different school districts across Orange County.

But the coastal Ocean View School District had a shot of good news when recent tests showed that all but three campuses were deemed not to have an unsafe level of asbestos in classrooms.

Tests showed that most of the schools had an “insignificant” level of asbestos in the air and that, even in classrooms where trace levels of asbestos were found, measurements were far below federal standards for a hazard and would not pose a risk to staff or students.

Still, all the rooms were deep-cleaned Monday night, officials said.

“We can say with absolute certainty that every child attending our schools is studying in the cleanest and safest classroom possible,” Supt. Gustavo Balderas said.

Asbestos is a mineral that was widely used as fireproofing in building projects until the 1970s. Though coming into contact with asbestos that hasn’t been disturbed isn’t harmful, it can become a hazard when the dust becomes airborne. Inhaling high levels of asbestos over a long period can cause cancer and other lung diseases, experts say.

When Hope View, Oak View and Lake View — the trio of elementary schools that remain closed — were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

The district brought in a panel of health experts last week to explain to parents the risks of asbestos exposure.

Dr. William Hughson said it’s unlikely that children will become sick as a result of asbestos exposure at school.

The Ocean View School District has given 195 applications to families interested in transferring their children to other districts since news of the potential asbestos exposure broke in September, officials said.

Officials in the Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach school districts said they have received requests for transfers.

However, Ocean View has not received confirmation that all 195 students will transfer, district spokesman Tom DeLapp said.

“I think that many people are reserving judgment until they see how we sort this out over the next few days,” DeLapp said.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Asbestos tests clear other schools in Ocean View district

Asbestos forces Huntington Beach students to classes on other campuses

Students from three Huntington Beach elementary campuses who have been unable to attend school for days because of the risk of exposure to asbestos will return to class Thursday, but in many cases those classes will be in other districts.

The decision to bus the students to other schools was announced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at the offices of the Ocean View School District in Huntington Beach.

More than 1,300 students from Oak View and Hope View elementary schools will go to seven schools in four districts — including Ocean View, Westminster, Savanna and Centralia — across Orange County.

Nearly 400 students from Lake View Elementary will temporarily attend Harbour View Elementary and Westmont Elementary, both in Huntington Beach.

“We’re hoping to open school with a lot of happy faces” Thursday, said district spokesman Tom DeLapp.

The district is working to remove asbestos above the ceiling tiles at Lake View, Oak View and Hope View. The process could take more than two months, but the district is aiming to expedite the process, DeLapp said.

Test results at Lake View showed asbestos in two classrooms, the Huntington Beach Independent reported.

At Hope View, a sample taken in one classroom contained a single asbestos fiber collected under a tile that appeared to have been drilled into in order to run television wires, said Cary Ruben, a certified industrial hygienist.

The district has not yet released test results for Oak View Elementary.

When the three schools were built decades ago, asbestos — a mineral — was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

Though the presence of asbestos that hasn’t been disturbed isn’t harmful, it can become a hazard when high levels of the dust become airborne. Inhaling high levels of asbestos over a long period of time can cause lung disease, experts say.

Parents became concerned about two weeks ago that their children might have been exposed to carcinogenic asbestos dust in their classrooms while the district modernized 11 school sites in a project that began in July.

The district and Cal/OSHA are investigating whether asbestos was being abated after the first day of school.

“These were the three schools that had [construction activity] that was occurring after school started,” DeLapp said. “In our abundance of caution, we’ve decided to close the schools for abatement.”

Oak View and Hope View students will have been out of school for eight days come Thursday. Lake View students will have missed six days. Ocean View School District officials have not said how they plan to make up the lost days of instruction.

“Our primary goal is to get kids back in classrooms,” DeLapp said.

Fry is a Times Community News staff writer.

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @HannahFryTCN

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Asbestos forces Huntington Beach students to classes on other campuses

Asbestos in classrooms disrupts parents' plans for their children

Huntington Beach parent Lily Coffin thought her young son would complete his education in the Ocean View School District.

Ethan, a second-grader, was happy learning alongside his friends at Hope View Elementary School, and Coffin was active in the Parent Teacher Organization.

But last week, Coffiin and other Ocean View parents learned that their children could have been exposed to potentially carcinogenic asbestos in their classrooms while the district worked to modernize several school sites.

“There’s no way I can trust my son is going to be safe there anymore,” she said of her decision to move Ethan to Seacliff Elementary in the neighboring Huntington Beach City School District.

Over the last several days, about 100 families have flooded the offices of Seacliff and Agnes L. Smith elementary schools to request an interdistrict transfer, Seacliff Principal Monique Huibregtse said Friday.

Hope View and two other Ocean View elementary schools — Lake View and Oak View — were closed last week while being tested for asbestos.

Ocean View officials announced that 300 students from Lake View Elementary will temporarily attend classes at the district’s Westmont and Harbour View schools while the district works to remove asbestos that is present above ceiling tiles at the school. The process could take up to 10 weeks, officials said.

Supt. Gustavo Balderas said Friday that Hope View and Oak View also will remain closed until further notice.

“Recently we received information from our consultants and experts that it is not in the best interest of students and staff to reopen these three schools until we obtain additional information,” Balderas said.

In the meantime, he said, the officials are working to identify schools inside and outside the Ocean View district to take the nearly 1,300 displaced students from Hope View and Oak View.

Test results at Lake View showed asbestos in two classrooms.

“It was a trace amount … and we are taking the necessary steps to get that situation under control,” according to a district statement Thursday night.

At Hope View, a sample taken in one classroom contained a single asbestos fiber collected under a tile that appeared to have been drilled into to run television wires, said Cary Ruben, a certified industrial hygienist.

Test results from Oak View were inconclusive, officials said.

The district said it will test for asbestos during the next several weeks at all 11 schools, where construction recently took place as part of the modernization effort.

The cost of the tests is about $700,000, said Assistant Supt. Roni Ellis.

Construction has been suspended at every school until the summer. The district, along with Cal/OSHA, is investigating whether contractors continued to remove asbestos while students were in classrooms, which would violate state law.

Ocean View officials could not provide an estimate Friday afternoon of the number of families who have applied for transfers.

Large numbers of students leaving Ocean View could mean financial trouble for the district. Like many school districts, Ocean View receives funding from the state based on student attendance.

The district is losing at least $68,000 a day in state funding because students can’t attend classes.

That’s just the beginning of financial worries for the district. Factoring in legal costs, changes to transportation and asbestos testing and abatement, the district could spend millions out of its general fund, Ellis said.

The district could end up asking the state to help with costs, officials said.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber that until the 1970s was widely used in building products and insulation materials. Fibers can be released into the air during demolition work, repairs and remodeling, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

When Lake View, Oak View and Hope View schools were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceiling. Over time, the dust began to fall from the beams and settle on top of classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

Though contact with asbestos that hasn’t been disturbed isn’t harmful, it becomes a hazard when the dust becomes airborne, said Steven Viani, a registered civil engineer and engineering contractor with experience in asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Inhaling high levels of the dust can increase the risk of lung disease that isn’t detected until years later, including a type of cancer called mesothelioma, experts say.

Teachers have expressed concern that they weren’t notified about the asbestos above the tiles and said the district should have placed signs restricting access to limit the risk of the dust becoming airborne.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Asbestos in classrooms disrupts parents' plans for their children

Asbestos found at Northcott

Asbestos found at Northcott

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON — Asbestos has been found in roofing and caulking materials at the three Northcott Court buildings slated for demolition along Hal Greer Boulevard.

Huntington WV Housing Authority Executive Director Vickie Lester said the asbestos is in small amounts and could not become airborne through demolition, but the agency is proceeding with removal “out of an abundance of caution.”

The Housing Authority did a major asbestos abatement on the Northcott complex in 1992.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection received a complaint last week that there was still asbestos at the site, spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater said.

A DEP inspector was on-site Tuesday, and a test on certain materials came back positive for asbestos, she said.

“We’re doing follow-up testing to see what levels and concentrations we’re dealing with,” Gillenwater said.

The material must be handled by a contractor licensed in asbestos removal and must be disposed of in a landfill that is qualified to accept it, Gillenwater said.

“We are working with (the Housing Authority), and they’ve been very cooperative,” she said.

Lester said the asbestos was found in the felt beneath the roof edges, and in caulking used on joints in the boiler room.

She said the asbestos found is “non-friable,” meaning it cannot be crushed by hand, and does not pose any risk of getting into the air.

Upon destruction, friable asbestos releases fibers into the air that, when inhaled, can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Lester said her understanding is that an anonymous call was made to the DEP about Northcott, and she believes it might have been made by a former Housing Authority employee.

“It was probably someone who was around for the abatement in 1992 and ’93,” she said. “It’s disturbing that someone would have this knowledge for more than 20 years and just come forward now.”

Northcott Court is the oldest of the Housing Authority’s complexes, built in the 1940s.

The Housing Authority will build two new housing developments as it demolishes Northcott over the next three years. Once the entire Northcott complex is down, the city of Huntington plans to develop commercial property on the site.

Sullivan Excavating out of Coal Grove, Ohio, was awarded the contract to demolish the first three buildings.

Lester said the company is still doing some salvage work before demolition, and Frontier Communications is moving phone lines back so service won’t be impacted when the first three buildings come down.

The asbestos find isn’t expected to delay actual demolition, Lester said. If it does, she said, it will only be by two to three days.

Follow reporter Ben Fields on Twitter @BenFieldsHD.

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Asbestos found at Northcott

Aug. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

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Asbestos found at Northcott