Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Mitigation work performed at Libby preschool after asbestos accidentally released

The Western News | July 20, 2021 7:00 AM


Libby Public Schools administrators organized a mitigation project after workers at the Plummer Preschool Center uncovered asbestos while removing a boiler. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)

Administrators with Libby Public Schools undertook an unexpected asbestos mitigation project after workers accidentally released the toxic mineral while removing a boiler from the Plummer Preschool Center last month.

Superintendent Ron Goodman said inspectors found the asbestos-tainted vermiculite while abating chimney stacks in the boiler room. The district hired Flathead County-based Kirby Environmental to clean up the spill and determine where the asbestos had spread.

“The first thing that we did is we tested for release of asbestos into the actual building,” Goodman told school board members July 12. “The really positive thing is that … there wasn’t any exposure inside the building.”

Since workers used a door that led directly outdoors from the boiler room, no other rooms inside the school were contaminated. Contractors found fibers on a trailer used to transport the boiler.

No children or employees were in the building when workers removed the boiler, Goodman said. The superintendent expected Kirby Environmental to finish cleaning up the boiler room by July 16.

An independent contractor out of Missoula will take air samples to ensure the room is clean.

Within a week or two, Goodman expected the boiler to be back in place. School officials plan to use Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds — federal coronavirus relief dollars — to cover the roughly $30,000 cost of the abatement work. Administrators had already set aside monies from the fund to revamp the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the preschool center.

Goodman said administrators had reported the contamination to the state Department of Environmental Quality as soon as possible and were not facing any fines.