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Asbestos at MSS, rush to expense questions?

by Bennette Roach

Top three buildings do not carry any ceiling tiles and considered for class use

Top three buildings do not carry any ceiling tiles and considered for class use

(Update) As of Tuesday this week, follow-up reports of the asbestos scare at the Montserrat Secondary school compound have left government and non-government officials asking questions and expressing concern of wanton behaviour in the management of the asbestos ‘crisis’.

As promised Minister Riley announced on Tuesday the results of the purported samples of suspected asbestos material taken to Miami for testing. He said the results left his Ministry better off than they thought “before.” He said further investigations would be carried out to determine what action was necessary and that he believed full class activity should begin at the begin of the new term in January.

Riley said, “The two materials tested, the one in the walls comes back as not asbestos, but there is a residual problem in the roof which has a positive test for asbestos. The roofing tile which is in three buildings has tested positive for asbestos and we are going to be working aggressively to have the asbestos from those buildings removed over the next three to four weeks… So we are al little bit better off than we thought at first and we will be able to put a plan together to remove the asbestos before the beginning of the second term which would be in early January”

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Following up this report, on Thursday, he thanked those who, “worked hard making sure that the school system function to full efficiency during the current week in which we experienced a little bit of a transition from our original location…”

He then announced, that, ”for the rest of the school term the school busses will be free so the parents and students who  access to bus service will not have to pay until the beginning of term two in January.”

In ending that announcement on Thursday, he said that the shift system ends tomorrow and on Monday, “we will reopen with a new system.” He said finally, “and the third thing is that at the MSS campus we already have plans in place to work on the asbestos removal and we are hopeful that we will be able to resume operation at that site from the first week of term two.”

The questions began with why it is the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) carrying out the investigations and conducting works at the MSS instead of the Ministry of Communications and Works, the Ministry who is legally responsible for the buildings and maintenance thereof in Montserrat.

Look SchoolFurther questions arose after Minister Riley announced the results of tests that no one but perhaps the PIU can verify. The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) sought to confirm without success where the samples that were taken  to Miami came from and whether they were the same tiles in the roof as the ones tested back in 2000. PIU had reportedly said, rightly it would seem, they were not interested in the works done back then (in 2000), by J.E. Galloway Construction Co. Ltd. Nothing was said about the test results reported by the Galloways, which was reportedly corroborated by MC&W independent tests.

The Construction Company who said there was a negative report of asbestos in the roof tiles at MSS, presented the report of April 2000 which showed no asbestos detected with fibrous and non-fibrous, 75% and 25% respectively.

TMR finally received a copy of the report referred to by Minister Riley as saying there was residual asbestos in the samples taken to Miami. TMR is seeking clarity of the statement as the report shows one of the materials tested to be: floor tile – Asbestos type: 30% Chrysotile; Other fibers: 5%; Minerals 65%.

One government official provided a document, titled “When is Asbestos Dangerous?” in which the following excerpt appears.

“Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable. The term “friable” means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is highly friable. Asbestos floor tile is not.

“Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibers unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibers into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it will not.”

This supports the PIU’s explanation about asbestos being only a problem “when disturbed, etc.”, but there remains the question of the concerns about the need for the expense to remove roofs, the explanation to date and visible proof of the matters being discussed.

One source says there are two forms of Chrysotile and that the one at MSS is the good type. TMR is hoping for government cooperation to have some clarity by next publication, when more will be presented about the document referred to above.

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by Bennette Roach

Top three buildings do not carry any ceiling tiles and considered for class use

Top three buildings do not carry any ceiling tiles and considered for class use

(Update) As of Tuesday this week, follow-up reports of the asbestos scare at the Montserrat Secondary school compound have left government and non-government officials asking questions and expressing concern of wanton behaviour in the management of the asbestos ‘crisis’.

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As promised Minister Riley announced on Tuesday the results of the purported samples of suspected asbestos material taken to Miami for testing. He said the results left his Ministry better off than they thought “before.” He said further investigations would be carried out to determine what action was necessary and that he believed full class activity should begin at the begin of the new term in January.

Riley said, “The two materials tested, the one in the walls comes back as not asbestos, but there is a residual problem in the roof which has a positive test for asbestos. The roofing tile which is in three buildings has tested positive for asbestos and we are going to be working aggressively to have the asbestos from those buildings removed over the next three to four weeks… So we are al little bit better off than we thought at first and we will be able to put a plan together to remove the asbestos before the beginning of the second term which would be in early January”

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Hon Minister of Education Colin Riley

Following up this report, on Thursday, he thanked those who, “worked hard making sure that the school system function to full efficiency during the current week in which we experienced a little bit of a transition from our original location…”

He then announced, that, ”for the rest of the school term the school busses will be free so the parents and students who  access to bus service will not have to pay until the beginning of term two in January.”

In ending that announcement on Thursday, he said that the shift system ends tomorrow and on Monday, “we will reopen with a new system.” He said finally, “and the third thing is that at the MSS campus we already have plans in place to work on the asbestos removal and we are hopeful that we will be able to resume operation at that site from the first week of term two.”

The questions began with why it is the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) carrying out the investigations and conducting works at the MSS instead of the Ministry of Communications and Works, the Ministry who is legally responsible for the buildings and maintenance thereof in Montserrat.

Look SchoolFurther questions arose after Minister Riley announced the results of tests that no one but perhaps the PIU can verify. The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) sought to confirm without success where the samples that were taken  to Miami came from and whether they were the same tiles in the roof as the ones tested back in 2000. PIU had reportedly said, rightly it would seem, they were not interested in the works done back then (in 2000), by J.E. Galloway Construction Co. Ltd. Nothing was said about the test results reported by the Galloways, which was reportedly corroborated by MC&W independent tests.

The Construction Company who said there was a negative report of asbestos in the roof tiles at MSS, presented the report of April 2000 which showed no asbestos detected with fibrous and non-fibrous, 75% and 25% respectively.

TMR finally received a copy of the report referred to by Minister Riley as saying there was residual asbestos in the samples taken to Miami. TMR is seeking clarity of the statement as the report shows one of the materials tested to be: floor tile – Asbestos type: 30% Chrysotile; Other fibers: 5%; Minerals 65%.

One government official provided a document, titled “When is Asbestos Dangerous?” in which the following excerpt appears.

“Asbestos is most hazardous when it is friable. The term “friable” means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is highly friable. Asbestos floor tile is not.

“Asbestos-containing ceiling tiles, floor tiles, undamaged laboratory cabinet tops, shingles, fire doors, siding shingles, etc. will not release asbestos fibers unless they are disturbed or damaged in some way. If an asbestos ceiling tile is drilled or broken, for example, it may release fibers into the air. If it is left alone and not disturbed, it will not.”

This supports the PIU’s explanation about asbestos being only a problem “when disturbed, etc.”, but there remains the question of the concerns about the need for the expense to remove roofs, the explanation to date and visible proof of the matters being discussed.

One source says there are two forms of Chrysotile and that the one at MSS is the good type. TMR is hoping for government cooperation to have some clarity by next publication, when more will be presented about the document referred to above.