Mike Davis, Director of the Robertson County School District in Springfield, Tennessee, announced last week during a presentation that he wants the school’s central office building evacuated in favor of a new location after asbestos was found littered throughout a section of the building. Davis said that everyone who works in the building is at risk for developing health problems if they remain at the building.
During his presentation held at the Robertson County education and budget committees meeting, Davis informed the group that at least 5 of the 29 employees who work at the school district’s central office building have complained of and have been diagnosed with environmental-related illnesses. After a March 2014 inspection of the building, performed by an engineering and architectural firm, asbestos fibers were found in the building’s gym area. This marks the second time asbestos was found in the central office building. According to reports, the first asbestos leak was so large that it took an extensive clean-up effort.
Per federal law, the school district employs a qualified company to inspect its building every three years for asbestos. During this year’s inspection, a geologist with the asbestos company hired to inspect the Robertson County central office building determined that asbestos was so bad in the gym area that the ceiling and wall plaster was deteriorated to the point of extreme health risks to workers.
“Due to the poor condition of the surfacing (asbestos-containing materials), the building could pose a danger to building workers and occupants. In addition, the history of the building structural condition also indicates the potential for other release episodes. Two ceiling failures and general routine maintenance has resulted in potential fiber releases in the past at the facility,” the report read.
As a result, the company urges the school board to either do an extensive clean-up or an entire asbestos abatement of the building. Davis and other officials, however, would rather have a new building since a new asbestos project may cost over $1 million to complete. Additionally, it would take three months to get approval from the city’s fire marshal and several more months to complete the construction.
Robertson County Mayor, Howard Bradley, was surprised and disturbed by the news that the project would take close to a year, if not more, to complete.
“For a very long time that building has been a less than ideal environment. I would expect to see this project expedited after those two committees heard from (Mr. Davis) how serious and urgent this is. We’ve got to get out of that building. I wish it could be today, but that’s just not possible,” Bradley said.
Even more alarming is that the building, located at 2021 Woodland Street, was once an elementary school. Children, teachers, and staff members have been in the building daily since its opening as a school in 1925 until 1970, when it was converted into a central office for the school district.
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