Falmouth School Gets Bill for Asbestos Abatement

Teaticket Elementary School in Falmouth remains closed as the new academic year begins, due to concerns of student exposure to asbestos.

School officials had hired a contractor to work on the facility this summer to address a number of repair and maintenance issues. However, during the course of the construction work, some ceiling tiles were damaged, and inspectors immediately became concerned that those tiles contained asbestos.

old-schools-class-room-881694-mThese tiles were made at a time when asbestos was used in virtually every aspect of construction and building materials and tiles were among one of the major offenders in terms of containing the deadly asbestos files.  As is required, the inspectors hired an asbestos abatement contractor to come in and take samples of the tiles.  Trained and certified asbestos inspectors take the samples, and the samples themselves are securely stored and transported to a materials testing lab to perform a microscopic analysis.  In the case of this school, it was confirmed that asbestos was present in the tiles and was now posing a risk to anyone in the school.

As a result of this asbestos contamination risk, the school board called an emergency meeting before the start of the school year to talk with parents about what arrangements would be made to make sure their children continued to get an education with as little disruption to students’ and parents’ lives as possible. While there was obviously a great inconvenience caused by this Boston area asbestos exposure case, they were trying to do whatever they could to minimize that disruption.

Once it was settled where the students would go, the school set out to get the asbestos cleaned up, so the school would be safe for students once again.  The school asked an asbestos abatement firm to provide an estimate for the cleanup project, according to a recent news feature from The Falmouth Enterprise, and that estimate was for $300,000.  This figure includes the cost of asbestos abatement, cleanup, and replacing the ceiling tiles in the classrooms with ones that do not contain deadly asbestos fibers.  There will also be the need to have an asbestos consultant work with school officials, the asbestos abatement contractor, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MASSDEP) to make sure everything is being done in compliance with environmental law.

Now that they have an estimate on the total cost of the asbestos abatement project, the town will need to hold a vote that allows the towns monetary reserve funds to be used to pay for this project.   The town council will have to authorize this an emergency expenditure since it was not included in the budget.  The reason it was not it was not included in the budget was because the school had not yet had the problem of damaged tiles at the time the budget was drafted.  While they must have known that the tiles contained asbestos, they are not considered a significant threat to students and teachers when they are not broken or otherwise falling apart.  Once they are broken and dust is being produced, they become very dangerous.  This is because the fibers must be inhaled or ingested, and there is no risk of that when the tile is in good shape.

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Additional Resources:

School District Estimates Cost Of Asbestos Cleanup At $300,000, September 1, 2016, By Andrea F. Carter, The Falmouth Enterprise

More Blog Entries:

New Effort to Strengthen Asbestos Litigation, June 28, 2016, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog

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