Update on Asbestos

Vance Foure

Legal requirements and problems concerning asbestos in schools continue to plague our churches and include the following three problems:

1. Removal of Asbestos.

Several churches seem to think that only the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) applies to church schools. However, other federal statutes also apply to such activities as asbestos abatement. Please contact your state health department or Gibbs & Craze for further information.

2. Improper Asbestos Inspections. The Environmental Protection Agency has assessed multi-million dollar fines against a nationwide asbestos inspection firm for failure to conduct proper asbestos inspections. Another nationwide firm may also be assessed very large fines. The EPA is threatening to prosecute schools which failed to have an adequate asbestos inspection conducted.

We strongly encourage each church to check with their asbestos inspector to assure that its original inspection is not subject to EPA prosecution.

3. Asbestos Reinspections. In the July, 1991, Briefcase, we reported that the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires that each school building which was inspected originally under AHERA must be reinspected after three years if that building continues in use for educational purposes. According to a recent publication out of the Environmental Protection Agency entitled “Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Reinspections Under the AHERA Asbestos Schools Rule,” the EPA clarified this interpretation of AHERA in several critical areas, including the following:

* Is reinspection required for all buildings? The EPA answered, “NO!” If your church-school building was clear of asbestos in the original inspection, or all of the asbestos had been removed as a result of the
management plan, then the church is not responsible for a re-inspection every three years.

* The remaining AHERA rules with regard to asbestos in schools continue in effect, including the appointment of a designated person, retention of management plans indefinitely, and providing annual written notification to parents, teachers, and other employees of the availability of the management plan.

* Must the EPA reinspect a building that is no longer in use as a school? “NO.”

* When the management plan is revised as a result of the reinspection, does the updated plan have to be resubmitted to the state? “NO. ” A management plan has to be submitted to the governor of the state when it is first developed. AHERA does not require subsequent updates or other changes to the plan to be submitted to the state.

If your church has any additional questions about asbestos, please contact your state agency or the Gibbs & Craze Law Firm.(The above material appeared in an issue of The Briefcase.)

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