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EPA Cites Detroit Public Schools, Archdiocese For Asbestos Violations

August 21, 1985

DETROIT (AP) _ The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking $435,300 in fines against the city schools, saying officials failed to inspect buildings for asbestos and failed to notify parents and workers of crumbling asbestos.

The penalty would be the largest so far levied against a school district for an asbestos violation, the agency said in a release dated Aug. 16.

In a separate complaint, the EPA cited the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit for violating its so-called asbestos-in-schools rule. It is seeking penalties of $21,000 from the archdiocese.

The asbestos-in-schools rule requires school administrators to inspect all school buildings for crumbling materials that could contain asbestos, which can break into tiny fibers that can cause cancer and lung disease.

Parents, teachers and school employees must be notified if crumbling asbestos is found.

The public schools failed to properly inspect and failed to maintain records at all of the district’s 288 schools and support facilities, the agency said in a complaint filed with its regional hearing clerk in Chicago.

Inspections in May at 14 of 17 public school district facilities revealed crumbling materials - possibly containing asbestos-like fibers - on pipes, boilers, ceiling beams and in air circulation systems, according to

Inspections at five facilities revealed crumbling material samples that were not properly collected or analyzed, the EPA said. At two facilities, the district knew crumbling asbestos was present, but failed to warn and notify parents and workers, the EPA said.

″We have never had a school district this large with this many violations,″ said EPA spokeswoman Virginia Donohue.

Telephone calls to Marie Furcron, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Public Schools, were not returned Monday afternoon.

One or more violations against the archdiocese were found at eight of 12 schools inspected by the agency in May, the EPA said.

Jay Berman, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said he had not received the EPA complaint.

″Any exposed area that had friable (crumbling) asbestos had been covered,″ he said. ″That was some time ago. For these other things, we’re going to have to get ahold of the records violations and see what they are.″

Asbestos was widely used between 1940 and 1979 in fireproofing, insulation and acoustical materials before it was banned for those purposes.

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