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EPA Agreement with Prince Georges County School District Ensures Compliance with Safeguards for Asbestos in Schools

Release Date: 08/19/2014
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (August 19, 2014) -- In a consent agreement with EPA, the Prince George’s County School District in Maryland has resolved alleged violations of federal regulations on the management of asbestos materials in school buildings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

The school district has cooperated fully with EPA to come into compliance and ensure ongoing compliance with asbestos safeguards in all of their schools. The district -- which has 126,000 students and 8,870 teachers in 195 schools -- has documented $4,720,000 in expenditures on district-wide asbestos compliance activities since 2009.

The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires owners of school buildings to develop a management plan for asbestos-containing materials, detailing procedures to prevent asbestos releases. The management plan must be available at the school, with annual notification to parent, teacher and employee organizations of the plan and any asbestos abatement activities. Schools must train personnel on AHERA compliance, and conduct inspections and periodic surveillance of asbestos-containing materials.

According to EPA, the school district was subject to a substantial penalty for alleged AHERA violations. However, as provided by the law, EPA has taken into account the district’s diligence in coming into compliance, including the $4.72 million spent on compliance costs and commitment to on-going compliance, and has not assessed a monetary penalty.

Alleged violations, found during inspections conducted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), involve precautionary inspections, recordkeeping and notification requirements of AHERA safeguards including:

      failure to conduct initial inspections (or obtaining an exclusion) for all school buildings;
      failure to conduct re-inspections every three years;
      failure to collect asbestos samples during inspections;
      failure to conduct asbestos training for custodial and maintenance staff;
      failure to prepare a complete asbestos management plan;
      failure to notify parent, teacher, and employee organizations of the availability of the asbestos management plan; and,
      failure to place warning labels on asbestos-containing materials in routine maintenance locations.

As part of the settlement, the school district neither admitted nor denied the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable AHERA requirements at all schools in the district.

This settlement is part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to work with schools to reduce asbestos hazards. EPA offers compliance assistance to public, private, charter, and parochial schools, and has conducted outreach at educational conferences.

For more information on the regulation of asbestos in schools, visit http://www.epa.gov/oppt/asbestos/pubs/asbestos_in_schools.html.