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Administrative delays hold up THS cleanup

| August 17, 2005 12:00 AM

By ROGER MORRIS Western News Publisher

Administrative delays with the federal government and not money was the reason cleanup of Troy High School was postponed this summer, said a state representative of the Department of Environmental Quality.

There is no threat to "breathing space" at the high school, said Catherine LeCours, Superfund project manager for the state DEQ, at the Troy City Council meeting.

Cleanup of asbestos contaminated vermiculite at THS is expected to take two weeks, she said.

"The good thing is that kids aren't being exposed," LeCours said. "When they took the samples, it showed nothing. It's there but it's not in the school space — the breathing space of the school."

The vemiculite insulation is in two locations in the school, above the entrance to the auditorium and in one hallway ceiling.

"It's in two isolated spots and it shouldn't take long to clean up," LeCours said.

"We will probably wait until next summer," she said of state cleanup efforts. "We had hoped to be farther along this summer but we had a major administrative delay with the EPA superfund process."

The DEQ is responsible for the

vermiculite cleanup in Troy. The state agency is working with the EPA as part of the larger Superfund effort to remove the asbestos-contaminated insulation from residential and commercial buildings.

LeCours has been reporting once a month to the city council to inform them of state activities inadvance of residential cleanup beginning in Troy.

"Right now we're not that heavily involved," LeCours said. "The good thing about Troy being a little behind in the cleanup is we will learn from it and hopefully not have to do things twice."

LeCours was responding to a report heard at a city council meeting last month that said the state didn't have the money to begin the cleanup at the high school.

"Not true," she said. "It's administrative procedures."

Also, LeCours urged the council to have representatives attend the various meetings of core groups dealing with the asbestos issue such as the Technical Advisory Group, the Community Advisory Group and the operations and maintenance group.

These groups are dealing with the issue of asbestos cleanup after the EPA is gone and the responsibility falls to local government and the state, she said.

LeCours said eventually the local communities will have a federally-funded community resource specialist to oversee future problems with the cleanup and handling of asbestos-contaminated vermiculite.

She said three special meetings are coming up in September and October. On Sept. 14 and 15, the EPA will be holding meetings on the local Superfund program covering process and technical information about the cleanup such as risks and possibly a discussion on insulation in the walls and tearing out carpet. Those meetings will be at the Libby VFW community meeting room.

On Oct. 11 there will be a town meeting, "ultimate of all meetings," LeCours said, at the Memorial Center.

And there will be a Brownfields meeting on Oct. 13 from 3-5 p.m. to discuss economic development opportunities.