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August 21, 2018

Labor vows to remove asbestos from 1200 schools

$50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that poses an immediate risk to students and teachers.

$50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that poses an immediate risk to students and teachers. Photo: Rob Gunstone

Asbestos in 1200 Victorian state schools would be removed by 2020 under an “ambitious” $100 million Labor Party plan.

Again visiting a marginal sand-belt seat, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews made a pitch to parents, vowing to conduct a full audit of state government schools to identify asbestos and remove it.

The Sunday Age reported this week that teachers and principals had made an election-eve plea for asbestos to be fully removed from all schools after a secret state government audit found some are so plagued with the material that buildings need to be cordoned off or cleaned up immediately.

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Of the 368 audits released, only 30 schools were asbestos-free.

Under Mr Andrews’ plan, $50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that posed an immediate risk to students and teachers.

Another $50 million would be spent to accelerate the retirement and replacement of 250 old portable classrooms which are not part of Labor’s $510 million capital works program already outlined.

Labor conceded it was an “ambitious target” and that $100 million was a down payment for the first stage.

Labor education spokesman James Merlino said the Napthine government had dropped the ball on asbestos in schools over the past four years.

“What kind of message does it send to parents and to school communities that you have stickers across our school buildings, across Victoria, saying there is deadly asbestos and then do nothing about it?” Mr Merlino said.

But the Coalition said the plan was an under-costed hoax and Mr Andrews did not understand the facts.

“If ‘Dodgy Dan’ had proper costings, he would know that the cost of removing asbestos from schools is closer to $1 billion than $100 million,” a Coalition spokesman said.

“If he did his homework he would know that there are hundreds of audits of schools, and under this government funding for asbestos removal has more than doubled.”

The government said schools had asbestos management plans and conducted three-monthly checks, with training provided to key staff.

Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh welcomed the announcement, and said principals would be pleased a government would finally take responsibility for asbestos in schools.

“I’m hoping $100 million actually covers it. We’ve been calling on the government about asbestos and asbestos labelling and how schools need support for this,” she said.

Ms Leigh said schools didn’t have the resources to properly deal with the problem.

Oakleigh Primary School and Kindergarten would be one of the beneficiaries of the funding.

Principal Jack Fisher said the asbestos had to be constantly monitored in case of damage.

“This has been an ongoing issue for many decades,” he said.

Mr Fisher said removing asbestos in government schools was just the tip of the iceberg.

“I’m conscious of the fact that asbestos is most likely in a number of public buildings, including early childhood centres, kindergartens, independent schools, community centres and other government buildings,” he said.

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Labor vows to remove asbestos from 1200 schools

Major Asbestos Violations Result in $370,000+ in Fines for Two Companies

An investigation by Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) into a demolition project at a Seattle apartment building found a total of 19 willful and serious safety and health violations. As a result, the two businesses involved in the project have been fined a total of $379,100.

Partners Construction Inc., of Federal Way, Wash., was cited for a total of 14 willful and serious violations and fined $291,950. Asbestos Construction Management Inc., of Bonney Lake, Wash., was fined $87,150 for five willful and serious violations.

The violations were for asbestos exposure to workers, asbestos debris left on site and other violations that occurred during demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood. The three-story, five-unit apartment building was originally constructed with “popcorn” ceilings, a white substance containing asbestos fibers, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Asbestos is an extremely hazardous material that can lead to asbestosis, a potentially fatal disease, as well as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Removal of asbestos-containing building materials must be done by a certified abatement contractor who follows safety and health rules to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos. The contractor also must ensure proper removal and disposal of the asbestos materials.

Partners Construction Inc., a certified asbestos abatement contractor at the time, was hired by the building owner to remove the asbestos before the apartment building was demolished.

After several weeks, Partners provided the building owner with a letter of completion indicating that all asbestos had been removed. When L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, the inspectors found that the removal work had not been done and approximately 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling remained throughout, as well as asbestos sheet vinyl flooring.

Partners came back to finish the abatement work; however, due to a prior history of willful violations, L&I was in the process of revoking Partners’ certification to do asbestos abatement work. In May, Partners was decertified and went out of business.

A new company, Asbestos Construction Management Inc. (ACM), owned by a family member of the Partners owner, took over the job using essentially the same workers and certified asbestos supervisor as Partners, and sharing the same equipment.

A subsequent L&I inspection of ACM found many of the same violations as in the Partners’ inspection. L&I has initiated decertification action against ACM.

The employers have 15 business days to appeal the citation.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

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Major Asbestos Violations Result in $370,000+ in Fines for Two Companies

2 companies fined $380,000 over asbestos exposure

OLYMPIA — After state regulators cited and decertified Partners Construction for exposing its workers to asbestos at a Seattle apartment project, a family member from the company started a new business to take its place on the same project.

That business, Asbestos Construction Management, shared workers and equipment used by Partners Construction.

Together, the businesses are being fined about $380,000, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

The violations occurred during the demolition of an apartment building in the Fremont neighborhood where the companies were supposed to remove asbestos before the building was torn down. A three-story building with five units, it featured “popcorn” ceilings and vinyl floors that both contained asbestos.

An L&I investigation between February and May revealed nearly 19 “willful and serious” safety and health violations between work done by the two companies. Workers were exposed to asbestos, and hazardous debris was left on site, according to a statement Friday from L&I.

Donald Murray, listed in state documents as the owner of Asbestos Construction Management, did not return a call or email seeking comment.

Asbestos, a mineral fiber found in soil and rocks, has been used in buildings and automobiles, among other things, and today is used in small amounts in a few products. It can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer, and even has its own potentially fatal disease named after it: asbestosis.

The state fined Partners Construction, which was based in Federal Way, for $291,950 for 14 violations. Asbestos Construction Management, of Bonney Lake, was fined $87,150 for five violations.

Before Partners Construction was decertified to handle asbestos and went out of business, it provided the apartment building’s owner in March with a letter stating that all asbestos had been removed.

But when L&I inspectors responded to a worker complaint, they found the site “grossly contaminated,” with about 5,400 square feet of popcorn ceiling and some vinyl flooring remaining in the building.

The companies have 15 business days to appeal the citations. Money paid toward the citations are put in a workers’ compensation pension fund to help injured workers, as well as families of workers who have died.

And L&I is pursuing further action against Asbestos Construction Management.

“We are taking steps to decertify that company,” said Elaine Fischer, spokeswoman for L&I. “We’ve begun the process; they’ve been notified.”

Joseph O’Sullivan: 360-236-8268



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2 companies fined $380,000 over asbestos exposure

Solons want to ban asbestos

Lawmakers sought a total ban on the the importation, manufacture, processing, use and distribution of the “dangerous and disease-causing” asbestos and asbestos-containing products.

Akbayan party-list Reps. Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez III lamented that despite the issuance of a resolution seeking to totally ban asbestos in the Philippines during the 11th National Occupational Safety and Health Congress in October 2008, the use of the harmful substance continues.

In filing House Bill 4437, they expressed concern that Philippines is considered as the fourth largest importer of asbestos at $76.32 million annually.

“The current policy is one of control by regulation of the use and disposal of asbestos products. There is a ban on crocidolite or blue asbestos and amosite or brown asbestos while the use of chrysolite or white asbestos is not banned and permitted in high density products as fire proofing, clothing, roofing felts or related products, asbestos cement roofing and flat sheet, friction materials, high temperature textile products etc.,” Bello said.

Bello noted that the “alarming” exposure to asbestos even in very minute amounts could lead to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

House Bill 4437 provides the implementation of the ban on the importation, manufacturing, processing, use or distribution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes “not later than two years from the effectivity” of the proposed Act.

The proposed Asbestos Ban Act of 2014 tasks the Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Trade and Industry and the Secretary of Labor and Employment, to establish a public education and safety program aimed primarily at increasing awareness of the dangers posed by asbestos-containing products and contaminants in homes and workplaces and asbestos-related diseases.

An inter-agency technical advisory council attached to the Department of Health (DOH) shall also be created to assist the agency in preparing, conducting and reporting the public education and safety program, the bill said.

HB 4436 provides that any person who violates the provisions of the Act shall be punished by a penalty of six months to two years imprisonment or a fine of not than P100,000 nor more than P1 million or both at the discretion of the court.

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Solons want to ban asbestos

Jason Johns: Bill would deny justice to Wisconsin asbestos victims

The Wisconsin Asbestos Victims Network is disappointed and troubled with the vote the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor took Oct. 9 to advance Senate Bill 13 out of committee. SB 13 would delay and deny justice for Wisconsin’s asbestos victims.

The Wisconsin Asbestos Victims Network was formed to stand up for veterans and other asbestos victims to fight Senate Bill 13. Our coalition consists of a diverse group of organizations that represent veterans, laborers, seniors, people of faith and advocates. On behalf of these groups, we urge the Wisconsin Senate to oppose this bill. SB Bill 13 puts in place unnecessary delays, forces disclosure of filings with federal personal-injury trusts and takes choice away from veterans and other asbestos victims.

Asbestos is deadly. Exposure causes many devastating diseases, such as mesothelioma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin ranks 14th in mesothelioma deaths. When asbestos was first introduced and used, the public had no idea the deadly affects it could have on health, but the asbestos corporations did. Veterans were unknowingly exposed to this product while serving their country. Naval vessels and military barracks were often lined with the product. Factory, foundry, mill, nursing home and construction workers were often exposed to asbestos while on the job, but they had no idea the harm that was being done to them.

Much of our work has been with veterans’ organizations, like the Wisconsin VFW and Military Order of the Purple Heart, because asbestos affects veterans at an alarming rate. Veterans make up 8 percent of the population but account for 30 percent of all mesothelioma deaths. Moreover, the Military Order of the Purple Heart stated that it has not been past practice for them to get involved in legislation that changes the Wisconsin judicial system; however, in this case they felt they had to take a stand to protect their members’ rights. They noted, “Sometimes we simply need to take a stand on behalf of our members when a proposed law would detrimentally affect their constitutional right to a day in court.”

The Wisconsin VFW has officially opposed this legislation because it “creates additional hurdles for veterans and their families. Senate Bill 13 would only serve to prolong an excruciating and time-intensive process. Delay for even one veteran suffering from the fatal effects of mesothelioma is unacceptable — justice delayed is justice denied.”

We have also spent much of our time listening to asbestos victims and their families tell their heartbreaking stories. A military veteran from Green Bay told us, “The air was so thick of asbestos dust he could not see the exit to his work area” while aboard the USS Benjamin Stoddert. A widow of an asbestos victim from Racine, who was a veteran and factory worker, said, “It was unbearable to watch her husband of nearly 50 years suffer.” The daughter-in-law of a mesothelioma victim from Oconomowoc told us her mother-in-law “did everything right in life.” She “worked at a nursing home taking care of sick people, invited nearby college students over for meals to discuss their faith and was named person of the year along with her husband in her local community.” She was exposed to asbestos at the nursing home where she worked most of her life.

It is wrong to impede on the rights of veterans and other asbestos victims to access justice. We should not protect the asbestos corporations that knew long ago the deadly effects their product could have on Americans.

Senate Bill 13 should not be scheduled for a vote. We urge all the Wisconsin senators to stand with veterans and other asbestos victims and oppose Senate Bill 13.

Jason Johns is executive director of the Wisconsin Asbestos Victims Network.

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Jason Johns: Bill would deny justice to Wisconsin asbestos victims

Uxbridge middle school closed a second day for asbestos cleanup

UXBRIDGE — McCloskey Middle School is closed for a second day today as a ceiling-to-floor cleaning is completed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. School officials said results from air-quality tests Monday were acceptable, however.

School officials sent parents an email and phone message Monday night saying the middle school, which houses Grades 6, 7 and 8, would be closed Tuesday after environmental tests showed that flooring material removed over the summer contained asbestos.

Superintendent of Schools Kevin M. Carney said in an interview that he learned at 3:45 p.m. Monday that asbestos was present in tiles that had been found last week in a Dumpster behind the school. The tiles came from work to replace carpets in three classrooms over the summer.

He said he was surprised that tiles were underneath the carpets, since most carpets in the district lay on top of concrete or wood.

Mr. Carney sent parents a second email Tuesday afternoon informing them that the pre-cleaning air-quality tests done Monday night were favorable, meaning that exposure to airborne asbestos particles was below the exposure limits set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“That’s a great, great sign,” Mr. Carney said.

He said in the email that the decision to keep the school closed a second day, while the building was being thoroughly cleaned, was made to ensure the safety of students and staff and to adhere to regulations set by the Department of Labor Standards and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Second and final test results were expected by the end of the day today.

Asbestos includes fibrous minerals that have been used for insulation and fireproofing, wallboard, flooring, brakes, textiles and other commercial products. Tiny amounts of asbestos are generally present in the air. But if asbestos-containing material is handled and microscopic fiber particles separate, they can be inhaled.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung disorders, including cancer. The risk is particularly increased for smokers or people with pre-existing lung disease.

In 1999, the Virginia A. Blanchard School in North Uxbridge, which had been an early childhood education center, was closed because of extensive asbestos, among other building problems.

The McCloskey Middle School, built in 1937, served as Uxbridge High School until the new high school was built off Quaker Highway and opened in 2012.

“We’re not sure how they didn’t pick up the presence of asbestos previously,” said one parent of a sixth-grade student, who asked that her name not be printed to protect her daughter. “The presence of asbestos is alarming.”

“There’s asbestos material in any old building,” Mr. Carney said. “It’s how well it’s contained. We will proceed cautiously for sure.”

Mr. Carney said once the immediate situation is dealt with, he wanted to find out when the building workers knew there were tiles under the carpet and whether they took the necessary precautions.

“We’re so thankful for the patience of people,” Mr. Carney said. “I know it’s disruptive.”

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Uxbridge middle school closed a second day for asbestos cleanup

Uxbridge Middle School to be closed a second day for asbestos cleanup

UXBRIDGE — McCloskey Middle School will be closed for a second day Wednesday as a ceiling-to-floor cleaning is completed by a licensed asbestos abatement contractor. School officials said results from air-quality tests Monday were acceptable, however.

School officials sent parents an email and phone message Monday night saying the middle school, which houses Grades 6, 7 and 8, would be closed Tuesday after environmental tests showed that flooring material removed over the summer contained asbestos.

Superintendent of Schools Kevin M. Carney said in an interview that he learned at 3:45 p.m. Monday that asbestos was present in tiles that had been found last week in a Dumpster behind the school. The tiles came from work to replace carpets in three classrooms over the summer.

He said he was surprised that tiles were underneath the carpets, since most carpets in the district lay on top of concrete or wood.

Mr. Carney sent parents a second email Tuesday afternoon informing them that the pre-cleaning air-quality tests done Monday night were favorable, meaning that exposure to airborne asbestos particles was below the exposure limits set by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“That’s a great, great sign,” Mr. Carney said.

He said in the email that the decision to keep the school closed a second day, while the building was being thoroughly cleaned, was made to ensure the safety of students and staff and to adhere to regulations set by the Department of Labor Standards and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Second and final test results were expected by the end of Wednesday.

Asbestos includes fibrous minerals that have been used for insulation and fireproofing, wallboard, flooring, brakes, textiles and other commercial products. Tiny amounts of asbestos are generally present in the air. But if asbestos-containing material is handled and microscopic fiber particles separate, they can be inhaled.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term exposure to asbestos may increase the risk of lung disorders, including cancer. The risk is particularly increased for smokers or people with pre-existing lung disease.

In 1999, the Virginia A. Blanchard School in North Uxbridge, which had been an early childhood education center, was closed because of extensive asbestos, among other building problems.

The McCloskey Middle School, built in 1937, served as Uxbridge High School until the new high school was built off Quaker Highway and opened in 2012.

“We’re not sure how they didn’t pick up the presence of asbestos previously,” said one parent of a sixth-grade student, who asked that her name not be printed to protect her daughter. “The presence of asbestos is alarming.”

“There’s asbestos material in any old building,” Mr. Carney said. “It’s how well it’s contained. We will proceed cautiously for sure.”

Mr. Carney said once the immediate situation is dealt with, he wanted to find out when the building workers knew there were tiles under the carpet and whether they took the necessary precautions.

“We’re so thankful for the patience of people,” Mr. Carney said. “I know it’s disruptive.”

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Uxbridge Middle School to be closed a second day for asbestos cleanup

Emerson has cabinets containing asbestos removed

The Borough of Emerson had filing cabinets containing asbestos removed from borough hall in August, months after borough employees first expressed concern that they may have been emitting clouds of dust containing fibers of the cancer-causing material.

Clerk Carol Dray reported rumors of asbestos contamination in April, according to borough records. Borough Administrator Joseph Scarpa contacted Joint Insurance Fund (JIF), the borough’s insurance company, approximately three months later to ask for the name of an asbestos contractor to conduct tests.

“The question begs to be asked: Why did he wait until July to take any action…?” Dray inquired in an email to members of the governing body.

When asked, Scarpa gave no explanation for the lapse in time between when he received complaints about possible asbestos contamination and when he took action on the issue.

In a press statement Scarpa said, “I continue to believe that any of this asbestos information should not have been released by the borough clerk in the first place, as this is still clearly an open matter that involves the elements of personnel, potential litigation and HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act] protections. The governing body recently saw fit to take the drastic measure of censuring a council colleague for supposedly releasing basically the same type of information… I will not elaborate on this matter anymore… out of fear of personal reprisal from the mayor and council, and because I believe it is not in the best interest of the borough.”

Purchased in 2009, the refurbished fire-proof cabinets showed visible deterioration, explained Mayor Carlos Colina in an interview. Detail Associates, Inc., an environmental engineering firm certified by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Department of Health, confirmed the presence of asbestos in the suspect cabinets and on documents inside them.

“It was the administrator’s role to address that. Why did it take him that long to take action?” Colina asked. “The positive test results and finding of asbestos fibers… was important enough to take action on an immediate basis.”

Following initial testing in mid- July, Stephen Jaraczewski, president of Detail Associates, Inc., explained that “Proper removal is highly recommended.” Nearly 20 days later, Best Removal Inc. Asbestos Removal Contractors & Consultants rid Borough Hall of the cabinets on Aug. 5.

Scarpa said to his knowledge there is no asbestos remaining in Borough Hall.

Although the cabinets reportedly discharged “poofs” of dust, air samples in Borough Hall tested in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency standards, according to an email from Jaraczewski to the borough.

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Emerson has cabinets containing asbestos removed

Asbestos cleanup at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School

This section displays the last 50 news articles that were published.

Updated 08/13/2013 04:19 PM


Asbestos cleanup at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School

Administrators in the Binghamton City School District are working to clean up asbestos at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School. Our Melissa Kakareka has the latest on what it could mean for students and staff in the elementary school.

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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Calvin Coolidge Elementary School remains closed after the discovery of asbestos, but school officials want to get the building reopened as quickly as possible.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to declare the site an emergency to help speed up that cleanup process.

“By doing so, we don’t have to go to competitive bid. We can hire an abatement company in a much quicker fashion so we can start the process faster,” said Assistant Superintendent for Administration Karry Mullins.

The asbestos was found in a basement crawl space at the end of July and that area was immediately sealed off. Air tests were performed at the building and elevated levels of asbestos were found in some areas. The school was closed last week and summer programs were relocated.

“We’re meeting with health consultants. We are in the process of determining what the protocol should be for students and staff and people who may have been in the building,” said Mullins.

District officials are waiting on guidance from the state about how the cleanup process should move forward.

Mullins said, “We expect to have that direction by the Department of Labor by the end of the week. Based on their protocol, based on the visual assessments and guidelines, we’ll know what we have to do as far as the reordering of supplies and what has to be destroyed and what can be cleaned.”

It’s also unclear whether students will need to be relocated for the start of the new school year.

“We don’t have enough information to make that determination. We are starting to look at other spaces in case it becomes an issue, but we don’t have enough information yet,” said Mullins.

Administrators say they will release information to students, parents and staff as they find out more answers about the required work.

Testing was also done at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary because some materials were moved from Calvin Coolidge to that school. That building reopened Monday.

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Asbestos cleanup at Calvin Coolidge Elementary School

OSHA cites Ford's Buffalo plant over asbestos

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Federal safety officials have cited Ford Motor Co.’s Buffalo-area plant for alleged asbestos violations.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed fines of $41,800.

OSHA officials say inspectors found eight violations. One involved a pipefitter who they say was exposed to asbestos while working on a steam line. In other cases, OSHA says workers didn’t wear respiratory protection while exposed to asbestos and that the company did not properly monitor work areas for the potentially cancer-causing substance.

Ford has 15 business days to respond.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker didn’t initially respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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OSHA cites Ford's Buffalo plant over asbestos