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EPA ensures students, faculty protected from asbestos at five Arizona charter schools

Release Date: 05/04/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

Schools cited for not having inspections completed and lack of asbestos management plans

(05/04/09) SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined five Arizona charter school operators a combined total of $ 35,700 for Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act violations.

In April 2007, EPA inspectors discovered the school operators failed to conduct inspections to determine if asbestos-containing material was present in school buildings, and all had failed to develop asbestos management plans. The schools have since completed inspections and have developed asbestos management plans.

“All schools, including charter schools, need to conduct asbestos inspections and have asbestos management plans,” said Katherine Taylor, 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, as asbestos in schools has the potential for endangering the health of students, teachers, and others, including maintenance workers.”

The schools are:

* Phoenix Advantage Charter School: The operator, Phoenix Advantage Charter School, Inc. was fined $12,600. The school’s first management plan documented over 10,000 square feet of assumed asbestos-containing materials. The revised management plan shows after more testing and abatement actions, the school building still contains 3,200 square feet of actual or assumed asbestos-containing materials.

* The Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain and South Mountain: The operator, PCL Charter Schools, was fined $10,200. The Estrella Mountain location was found to not have any asbestos containing materials, while the South Mountain location’s management plan shows that the school contains 2,059 square feet of asbestos-containing materials.

* The Hearn Academy: The operator, Ball Hearn, was fined $8,800 and the school was found to contain 1,230 square feet of asbestos-containing materials.

* Tucson Preparatory School: The operator, Tucson Preparatory Partnership, Inc., was fined $200 for not having a management plan at its former location on North Oracle Road. An asbestos inspection conducted by the new tenants of the North Oracle building identified no asbestos-containing materials.

* AAEC at Paradise Valley, South Mountain, and Red Mountain: The operator, Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center, Inc. was fined $3,900 for failing to conduct an inspection of Paradise Valley school, and for not having management plans at its Paradise Valley, South Mountain, and Red Mountain schools. No asbestos-containing materials were identified at these schools.

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. In certain circumstances, an inspection is not required if the school has a signed statement from the architect or builder stating that a new building was constructed with no asbestos-containing materials.

Schools that do not contain asbestos-containing material must still develop a management plan that identifies a designated person and includes the architect’s statement or building inspection and the annual notification to parents, teachers, and employees regarding the availability of the plan.

The EPA’s rules also require the school to appoint a designated person who is 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 their administrative office and at the school, which must be made available for inspection by parents, teachers, and the general public. Asbestos is a known environmental carcinogen. Individuals exposed to airborne asbestos fibers could contract illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

For more information on asbestos in schools visit: http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/asbestos_in_schools.html
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