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EPA Settles Over Asbestos Violations in S.F. Schools
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled separate actions with the Pima County Board of Supervisors and with Cesar Chavez Learning Community Inc. for alleged violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act.
In May 2006, EPA inspectors discovered Pima Vocational High School, Aztlan Academy, and Cesar Chavez Middle School in San Francisco had not been inspected to determine if asbestos-containing materials were present in the schools' buildings. Pima County runs the Pima Vocational High School, while Cesar Chavez Learning Community Inc. is the charter holder for Aztlan Academy and Cesar Chavez Middle School. Neither the Pima County Board of Supervisors nor Cesar Chavez Learning Community Inc. could produce asbestos-management plans.
After the EPA contacted Pima County and Cesar Chavez, accredited inspectors conducted inspections of the schools. They found no asbestos at the schools, and Pima County and Cesar Chavez since then have taken the necessary actions to comply with the law by developing asbestos management plans for their schools.
“Asbestos can potentially endanger the health of students, teachers, and maintenance workers at schools,” says Nathan Lau, Associate Director for the Communities and Ecosystems Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased that these schools have now conducted inspections and put asbestos-management plans into place.”
Federal law requires schools to conduct an initial inspection using accredited inspectors to determine if asbestos-containing building material is present and develop a management plan to address the asbestos materials found in the school buildings.
Schools that do not contain asbestos-containing material still must develop a management plan that would identify the designated person and include the architect’s statement or building inspection and the annual notification to parents, teachers, and employees regarding theplan’s availability.
EPA rules also require the school to appoint a designated person trained to oversee asbestos activities and ensure compliance with federal regulations. Finally, schools must conduct periodic surveillance and re-inspections, properly train the maintenance and custodial staff, and maintain records in the management plan.
Local education agencies must keep an updated copy of the management plan in its administrative office and at the school and make it available for inspection by parents, teachers, and the general public.
For more on asbestos in schools, visit http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbestos_in_schools.html