After an alert to a potential asbestos violation in Lansing, Michigan, agents with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are now investigating the site of the former Michigan School for the Blind, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Ingham County Land Bank reports.
According to reports, EPA agents arrived on the site this Tuesday, with several wearing hazmat suits. The site is located in the north area Lansing, just six blocks from the Old Town commercial district.
MAC Contracting, LLC, was contracted to remove asbestos from the old school building, which was built during a time when asbestos-containing materials were heavily used. Ingham County Land Bank is removing buildings from the old school, but the project cannot begin until all asbestos is removed.
However, MAC Contracting, hired to finish the project by safely removing the asbestos, are allegedly violating Michigan state laws concerning proper removal of the hazardous mineral.
“There is asbestos; these are old buildings, and we’re trying to get them removed. Removal has to happen prior to demolition. I don’t know what’s true and what’s not – and that’s why the EPA is investigating – as to whether the asbestos is being removed properly and safely,” said Jeff Burdick, executive director of Ingham County Land Bank.
MAC Contracting’s contract has been suspended, pending federal investigation. When reporters tried to reach out to the company, there was no response and no one would speak about the issue when confronted at the company’s office building off of Lake Lansing Road.
“[The EPA] was out there collecting evidence yesterday for a criminal investigation related to unsafe practices in how asbestos is removed by employees. They said that they received allegations from [MAC] employees and they are collecting samples and they had a warrant in which to investigate,” said Burdick.
Furthermore, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) are conducting their own investigation.
“In addition to inspecting MAC Contracting, MIOSHA also opened inspections of the two owners of the property, the Ingham County Land Bank and Preservation Non-Profit Housing Corporation. MIOSHA will probably complete the inspections in about two weeks,” said MIOSHA spokesperson, Andrea Miller.
The Michigan School for the Blind first opened its doors in 1915. It became well-known as the school the singer Stevie Wonder attended. The school remained open for several decades until permanently closing in 2005. The city obtained the school from the state of Michigan in 2005, and restored two of its building. The two restored buildings, however, is not part of the site that is set to be torn down.
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