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Asbestos Concerns in Woodsboro

Posted at 3:30 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 18:35:22-04


The walls are tumbling down in Woodsboro.
Some of the older school district buildings are being demolished, and will be replaced by new ones.
But in the demolition process, asbestos has been discovered.
And that’s raising questions.
It’s what tonight’s Troubleshooters report is about.

Since 1939, the old gymnasium was home court for Woodsboro students.
And even though it hadn’t been in use for years, it was used as a donation drop-off point, after Hurricane Harvey.
Yet, even before Harvey, District Superintendent Janice Sykora told the Troubleshooters, the district’s Board of Trustees had given the green light to the demolition of not only the gym, but 2 other campus buildings as well because of decay.
But shortly after demolition began, asbestos was found.
The demolition stopped.

“The company doing the demo, did an independent test and said that there was asbestos in some of the shower pans in the dressing room,” Sykora told us. “And so All Points Environmental came out and tested them and said there was not asbestos there.”

But Sykora acknowledged that further testing by 2 independent labs showed there is asbestos.
“And we had environmental quality here. We had the State here looking at our, taking tests.”

The Troubleshooters contacted the Department of State Health Services which oversees matters like this.
Their response email, dated April 8th said in part, ‘follow-up testing at two separate, independent labs using the most advanced methods, showed no asbestos present.’

But in a separate communication, the Department appears to contradict itself.
This time they say the asbestos could be abated before demolition continues, or, demolished in place, and disposed of properly.
And that the District’s consultant has been aware of this all along.

The area in front of the partially demolished gym used to be a student drop off and pick up point, but according to Sykora, it’s not anymore.
And students are not in danger.
“I have been told no, based on if the asbestos stays on the wall and is not disturbed in its current state, just being out there, there is not a danger.”

Yet, even though the signs warn of the potential danger in the area, “we’ve had people ask us if they could have the bricks, and we’ve had to tell them no ! And they say ‘well, I’m just gonna go in and get a couple of bricks. No.’

Sykora says the abatement will be done according to law, even though it will cost the district more money.

We have also learned that because of the presence of asbestos, the demolition company has cancelled its contract with the District.