Thursday, November 13, 2008

EPA Settles with Three Maryland Schools and One School District to Ensure Safe Management of Asbestos

PHILADELPHIA (November 12, 2008 ) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled four cases in Maryland in an effort to ensure the safe management of asbestos-containing materials in schools.

In separate consent agreements with EPA, the Board of Education of Dorchester County Schools, St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Md., the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church preschool and kindergarten in Baltimore, and Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church School in Kingsville, Md., have settled alleged violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the federal law requiring schools to inspect and manage asbestos-containing building materials.

The AHERA violations the three individual schools and the one school district were cited for include failing to include all school buildings in the management plan, failure to conduct an initial inspection of all school buildings to determine if there was any asbestos located in the facility, failure to submit an asbestos management plan, failure to conduct reinspections of all friable and nonfriable asbestos every three years, and failure to provide annual notification of the management plan to parents, teachers, and employee organizations.

EPA did not find that students or other building occupants were exposed to asbestos as a result of the alleged violations. The schools that were cited have now certified their compliance with the AHERA requirements.

Under AHERA, EPA may agree to reduce or eliminate penalties due to the schools’ cooperation with EPA, compliance activities and expenditures. The four Maryland settlement agreements are:

1. EPA inspected St. Timothy’s School, Stevenson, Md., and cited it for failing to maintain copies of updated management plans in the school, failing to inspect the athletic complex, and failing to provide annual notification to parents, teachers, and employees. The school has spent at least $17,195 to come into compliance, so there is a zero penalty amount.

2. EPA inspected 13 schools in the Dorchester County Public School district, headquartered in Cambridge, Md. The violations vary from school to school but include failure to conduct reinspections of nine facilities every three years and failure to make management plans available for inspection. Dorchester County Public Schools has spent at least $55,250 to comply with AHERA regulations, so there is zero penalty amount.

3. EPA cited First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Baltimore, Md. for AHERA violations discovered during inspections by the Maryland Department of the Environment, which included failure to have an initial inspection conducted at the facility to determine whether there was any asbestos in the facility prior to its use as a school, and failure to submit an asbestos management plan for the facility. EPA determined the civil penalty to be $5,500. The school has spent $3,000 on compliance and agrees to an additional penalty of $2,500.

4. EPA cited Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kingsville, Md., for failing to include the parish hall, a school building used for recreational activities, in the management plans. The school has spent $5,682 to come into compliance, so there is a zero penalty amount.

Asbestos was once widely used in building materials due to its insulation and fire retardant properties. Damaged or disturbed asbestos may release fibers which, if inhaled, create a risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, and other respiratory illnesses. However, intact, undisturbed asbestos materials generally do not pose a health risk, if managed in accordance with AHERA safeguards. For general information about asbestos and its regulation, visit Information on asbestos in schools is available at

Today’s action contributes to EPA's record-shattering enforcement results for the 2008 Fiscal Year. To date, EPA has concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to spend an estimated $11 billion on pollution controls, clean-up and environmental projects, an all time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.


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