On Monday, Nov. 27, the Liberty Central School District temporarily closed the high school band room due to a leak that occurred just before fall break. Water from the heater seeped under the flooring, froze and caused significant damage to the tile which had already been crumbling from years of wear and tear.
It has come to our attention that several staff, students and community members have concerns about potential asbestos exposure in the high school band room.
We would like to provide some clarity and alleviate your concerns.
Pursuant to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA,) school districts are required to inspect for and manage asbestos containing materials. According to AHERA, districts can safely and effectively “manage in place” asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition (i.e. have not been damaged or are non-friable and cannot be crumbled or reduced to powder.)
Over the summer, it was confirmed that the tile in the band room contains non-friable asbestos, that it is solid, rigid and cannot be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand pressure.
Asbestos removal, friable or not, must be abated (removed) by properly trained and accredited asbestos professionals to do this work. Local education agencies are required to undertake timely and appropriate maintenance or response actions whenever asbestos containing materials become friable.
While the district would love to have the tile removed and repaired immediately, we must wait for the tile to be properly disposed of by Milcon Construction. The earliest this can be done is between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2.
Please be assured that the district’s decision to close the band room is due to a trip hazard, not an asbestos hazard.
We realize that when safety threats occur, parents naturally become very concerned. Please be assured that we have taken and will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure a healthy learning environment for all of our students and staff. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the superintendent’s office at (845) 292-6990.
Taken from the Environmental Protection Agency’s FAQ regarding Asbestos:
“Is it dangerous to have asbestos containing material in my school?
Not necessarily. Undamaged asbestos that is properly managed in place poses little health risk to students, teachers and other school occupants. However, it is important that the proper school designated authorities regularly inspect the condition of asbestos-containing materials to ensure they remain intact. Asbestos can pose a health hazard when it is disturbed and asbestos fibers become airborne where they can be inhaled. Undamaged non-friable asbestos is best left undisturbed and managed in place. If done improperly, removing asbestos has the potential to create a greater health risk than leaving it undisturbed.”