The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it had fined six Arizona school districts $94,575 for asbestos violations. The six districts have more than 15,000 children attending their 25 noncompliant schools.
Inspectors found violations of the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act in the school districts back in 2011. Infractions included: failure to inspect facilities for asbestos materials: failure to re-inspect campuses with known asbestos; and failure to have an asbestos management plan.
The six school districts are:
- St. John’s Unified School District in Apache County
- Florence Unified School District in Pinal County
- Vernon Elementary School District in Apache County
- McNary Elementary School District on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation
- Round Valley Unified School District in Apache County
- Apache Junction Unified School District in Pinal County
As the EPA points out, schools are required under federal law to have a stringent approach to asbestos management. Specific guidelines include:
- An initial inspection by accredited asbestos inspectors for asbestos containing materials
- An asbestos management plan in case any materials are found
- A designated person trained in federal asbestos regulations
- A plan for periodic surveillance and re-inspections of any asbestos-containing materials
- Training for maintenance and custodial staff
- Maintaining records in the plan
- Keeping a copy of the management plan available to parents, teachers, and the general public
All six school districts are complying with the law. As the cost of the compliance is deducted from the fines, most school districts will owe nothing.
Cheap, durable, and flame-retardant, asbestos was once heavily used in school construction. Asbestos is still in many schools built before 1980, when the substance’s link to mesothelioma and other diseases became better known.
If you or a loved one has come into contact with asbestos and developed mesothelioma as a result, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your legal options, please contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation.