New Jersey School Not Closed During Asbestos Debacle
Parents whose children attend the Pinelands Regional High School in central New Jersey want to know why the school wasn’t closed the minute it was determined that asbestos dust from a roofing project had made its way into the building.
Those attending a meeting earlier this week asked officials to explain why doors weren’t shuttered when a letter from Epic Environmental included concern about air quality inside the building.
The letter stated that that asbestos debris was discovered in the high school roof, and that debris could enter the school and “cause safety hazards and air quality issues,” reports the Barnegat Patch, which also noted that the school has been fined $7,000 for its infractions, which include failing to provide asbestos training for janitorial staff.
The interim superintendent of the Pinelands Regional School District noted that she knew nothing about that letter until about two weeks again and that she was shocked to learn of the potential problems with air quality inside the school during the construction project.
“Had I known about that when I should have, I would have closed down the building,” Maryann Banks told those assembled at the October 30 meeting.
In the Sept. 11 letter, after stating that asbestos debris was discovered in the high school roof, and that debris could enter the school and “cause safety hazards and air quality issues,” the company recommended that the debris be removed and that any construction on the rooftop be halted until a remedy was found.
The company also advised school officials to close “affected portions of the school” during the roofing project, but the district kept the high school open until early October, when a roof screw fell on a student, notes the report in The Patch.
“Hindsight is 20/20, but at the time with the information we had we made the best decision we could,” said Business Administrator Stephen Brennan, adding that they believed Epic’s initial report that the school was asbestos-free.
Currently, the high school students are using the middle school on a split-shift basis in order to avoid any further potential exposure to toxic asbestos.