Bourne, Massachusetts - Just a month ago, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards issued a stern written warning to the James F. Peebles Elementary School in Bourne, Massachusetts, ordering the school to clean areas of the building that contained asbestos before students returned from summer vacation. This is the second such warning issued to Peebles in three years, reports an article in The Cape Cod Times.
According to the article, in accordance with the request from the Labor Department, a crew of contracted workers has spent a week cleaning the school while others removed tiles and other building materials that contained hazardous asbestos. Air quality testing followed and school officials say the levels of asbestos found in the air were more than acceptable, allowing the building to open in time for the start of school this week.
“The problem was a combination of work not being done as required and a lack of paperwork documenting what had been completed,” said Christopher Hyldburg, a member of the school committee.
However, problems remain and teachers have been warned about potentially disturbing asbestos that remains in the building. For example, windows with asbestos-containing glazing were broken in the cleaning process and have not yet been replaced. Teachers have been asked not to open the windows or otherwise manipulate them until they’ve been replaced, for fear of spreading asbestos dust around the classrooms. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and even a small amount of asbestos exposure can result in the development of diseases such as mesothelioma cancer.
Nonetheless, teachers, staff, and parents are being told there’s nothing to be worried about. Representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have visited “at least four times,” stated Laura Scena, subcommittee chairwoman of the Bourne, Massachusetts School District. She’s confident that it’s now safe to enter the building.