Asbestos Found During Isham Renovations: Contracting Company Committs Code Violation

In a recent finding by The Phillipian, an asbestos violation was identified regarding the construction of the Isham dormitory on July 1 2005. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in a report filed on February 15 2007, “Dry asbestos was found [at the Isham construction site] in ripped trash bags along with pieces of ductwork with asbestos insulation still attached.” The asbestos “stockpile” was stored underneath a tarp. The contracting company, Bond Brothers, told Andover’s administration that they had removed the asbestos. While the contractors removed the asbestos from the building, it was not done following the proper codes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The asbestos was stored in such a way that the hazardous chemicals could be emitted into the air, thus depleting air quality and exposing members of the community to the potential of asbestos related disease. MassDEP has fined Bond Brothers $21,400. The project manager of the construction site informed OPP of the violation. OPP immediately stopped the job once being informed. Shortly after they were made aware of the asbestos, MassDEP came to campus to evaluate the site and properly cover up the asbestos. Andover hired an outside asbestos consultant to be oversee the future disposal and extraction of asbestos at the work site. Once investigated, the MassDEP and OPP concluded that the asbestos would not present any danger to members of the Andover community because the asbestos was extremely wet and no longer friable. Donald Whittemore, Associate Director of Operations for the Office of Physical Plant said, “As far as [student] exposure to [friable] asbestos, there was close to none.” Fori Wang ’07, a prefect in the Isham dormitory said, “I’m not concerned because they hired a new contractor.” The asbestos monitoring program first arose on campus after the federal government passed the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA). This act requires schools to identify locations with asbestos, formulate a plan to manage the asbestos in each school building, spread awareness to parents and staff regarding the asbestos and to train school maintenance and custodial workers on how to deal with these hazards. Andover immediately responded to the AHERA Act by forming a group of three Office of the Physical Plant members to serve as Occupational Environmental Safety Officers. In May of 1989, the school was among the first in the state to submit an asbestos plan to the governor’s office. Hiring the Hall Kambrell organization was an integral part of the school’s plan. This organization provided six inspectors that took thousands of samples from questionable materials in all school buildings. Hall Kambrell also provided four, six hundred-page Management and Inspection guides that the school still refers to for asbestos matters. When the initial inspections took place nearly all of the 156 buildings on campus contained asbestos. Now after 18 years of renovations to buildings and semi-annual inspections by the state, only 26% of buildings contain asbestos on campus. The majority of the remaining asbestos are in remote locations such as behind walls in George Washington Hall or in the basement of Commons. Asbestos is more prevalent in older buildings. Previously Andover’s fire blankets and stage curtains contained asbestos but were immediately removed once OPP made this discovery. OPP is required to keep extensive reports on the status of locations containing asbestos. Any renovations to the buildings must be reported to the Massachusetts governments as well as the processes of such a removal. Asbestos presents a greater danger when Andover does renovations because the asbestos becomes friable, easily crumbled. If someone or something were to encounter the friable asbestos the normally insulated by pipes or drywall asbestos will be emitted in the air. Donald Whittemore, Associate Director of Operations for the Office of Physical Plant said, “ [Andover is in] great shape with the hard work for over 18 years. Due to the dedicated members of the OPP’s Environmental Safety staff and funding from the school, Andover has done it right from the start. Phillips Academy facilities initially used Asbestos in order to fireproof and for transite panels, for pipes, prior to the national findings of the dangers of asbestos. When the asbestos fiber is inhaled into the lungs several types of cancer can be contracted and a condition asbestosis, permanent scarring of the lungs that leads to death. Asbestos is common to many older campuses. In 1971, the first Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asbestos-exposure standard was issued. However, the dangers of asbestos were not as widely spread until the 1980s. A significant milestone in the asbestos removal at Andover came in 1998 when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industry, Division of Health and Hygiene asked Andover to host a seminar on how to go about asbestos removal. Many of Andover’s sister school attended this meeting so that Andover could help by giving advice. When asked about this honor, Mr. Whittermore said, “Andover was the first school the state has seen to do it right”. Director of Facilities Michael Williams reassures students that they are not in danger and that asbestos on campus is carefully regulated.. He said, “There is asbestos on campus which is common for all older campuses. It is very carefully managed here by a superlative program and covered by a complete set of State and Federal regulations designed to ensure the safety of all. We keep it encapsulated and then tend to remove it when we do major renovations.”

Asbestos At Andover 1971: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration raises asbestos exposure as an issue. 1986: Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act passed. 1989: Andover is among the first schools to submit an asbestos removal plan to the federal government. 1998: PA hosts forum on asbestos control sponsored by the Massachusetts Health Department. 2005: Asbestos handling violation committed by a contractor working on Isham Dorm renovations. 2007: 26% of campus buildings contain some asbestos.