EPA fines five Phoenix charter schools for asbestos violations

(San Francisco, Calif. — 10/5/2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined five Arizona charter schools a combined total of $49,200 for asbestos violations.

Summit High School, GateWay Early College High School, Friendly House Academia Del Pueblo Elementary Charter School, Arizona School for the Arts, and Vicki A. Romero High School all failed to conduct inspections to determine if asbestos-containing material was present in school buildings and failed to have an asbestos management plan.  All of the schools have since taken necessary actions to comply with the law.

“Asbestos in schools has the potential for endangering the health of students, teachers, and others, including maintenance workers,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest region.  “The EPA takes these violations seriously, and applauds the schools for their rapid inspection and development of management plans.”

The following four schools failed to inspect for asbestos-containing materials, failed to have a management plan, and were each fined $11,700.  Accredited inspectors later found asbestos in the schools:

Summit High School: During an inspection in November, the inspector discovered asbestos materials in eight different locations on the campus, including friable asbestos in a rooftop maintenance area. The school has implemented a management plan and removed the friable asbestos from the area.

GateWay Early College High School: In April, the inspector discovered asbestos-containing materials in four different locations. The Maricopa County Community College District opted to inspect the entire 125,000 square-foot building area, including sections of the building that the school does not occupy.   The school has since submitted its management plan and cleared the entire building of the asbestos materials.

Friendly House Academia Del Pueblo Elementary Charter School and Arizona School for the Arts: Separate inspections found asbestos in the two schools.  Both schools now have management plans that include the location of asbestos and how the schools will properly manage asbestos to reduce the risk of exposure.

Vicki A. Romero High School was the only school found not to contain asbestos in its buildings.  Before beginning operations in its building, the school was required to have a signed statement from the architect that the building does not contain asbestos materials. However, the school did not have a signed statement from the architect at the beginning of operations or conduct an inspection. The school also failed to maintain an asbestos management plan and was fined $2,400.

Each school is allowed to subtract properly documented costs of complying with the regulations from the penalty amount.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act requires schools inspect for asbestos and maintain a management plan that identifies the location of asbestos in the school, measures the school will take to reduce asbestos exposure, and how the school will inform employees and building occupants, recommended response actions, a designated person to ensure asbestos requirements are properly implemented.

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