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Series of asbestos abatement errors result in school closure

When asbestos is identified, significant trust is placed in the hands of the experts hired to remove it. For many parents of children at New Orleans, Lafayette Academy Charter School, as well as the staff who work there, that trust has been broken. Grave errors in the renovation process have resulted in the school’s temporary closure.

On February 28th, 2017, a construction company tasked to work at the school, identified 200 cubic yards of asbestos in a layer of flooring on the building’s third floor. The construction company sub-contracted with a local company, V. Keeler & Associates, for the asbestos abatement.

V. Keeler & Associates

Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) sent an official to the site on March 22, 2017 and observed “…children walking the halls between the two containment areas at the school. Students were also seen attending classes and roaming the halls outside of one containment area that was not secured…”

The report from the LDEQ official also describes children:

  • Touching unattended air monitoring equipment
  • Poking their heads through an opening in the containment area

It appears that the asbestos abatement company did not properly secure worksites, nor did they properly dispose of materials. According to the LDEQ inspector, plastic bags containing sections of flooring had holes in them. Workers placed the bags in a previously uncontaminated empty classroom.

The on-site supervisor had falsified accreditation paperwork.

Advanced Environmental Consulting

Early this summer, the school contracted with a different abatement company, Advanced Environmental Consulting. Visiting inspectors reported workers to be moving between contaminated areas without changing clothes and not sufficiently dampening asbestos material.

Because of these significant errors during the asbestos abatement process, officials have temporarily closed Lafayette Academy Charter School. Children and staff will attend surrounding schools for the upcoming school year. While there is no current exposure to asbestos in the building, the failures of these adults to properly mitigate this carcinogen is inexcusable.

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