More suspected asbestos found at school

  • Clearwater Middle School (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Clearwater Middle School (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Air samples from an area of an East End school, where floor tiles suspected to be contaminated with asbestos were removed, were yesterday sent to an overseas lab for analysis, an education ministry spokeswoman has revealed.

The spokeswoman said the tiles were found in a classroom at Clearwater Middle School, during routine cleaning, after the school was given the all clear.

She added: “Results are expected back next week, after which the corresponding health certificate will be issued, from the Department of Health.”

The spokeswoman also said that asbestos removal was carried out on the cafeteria ceiling and the ceiling of closets.

The news came after an insider warned earlier this week, that parents, pupils and teachers had not been given the full picture on asbestos at the school, and that the scale of work that had been carried out this summer had not been made public.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, announced earlier this week that the green light had been given to start classes on September 10.

Mr Rabain told broadcaster ZBM that work at the school involved floor tiles, but did not identify the cafeteria or closet spaces as areas of the building where other asbestos abatement had been done.

An inside source said work that had been done to tackle asbestos at the school was a “Band-Aid fix”.

The source added: “No one has been in there and done a thorough inspection and been through the whole school.”

The insider said staff were still concerned about the safety at the school, despite Mr Rabain’s assurances. The Royal Gazette’s source continued: “I don’t know how in the world they can say it’s clean.”

The spokeswoman said the latest find was made after asbestos removal work was completed, in other parts of the St David’s island school, built in the years after the Second World War by the US military.

She said that the cancer-causing material was discovered in the ceiling of the cafeteria, and the ceiling of closet spaces, in June.

The spokeswoman said that AC Management, a licensed asbestos removal contractor, dealt with damaged material that contained asbestos, and that the material was “encapsulated or removed and replaced with non-asbestos materials”.

She added the work was completed on August 5.

Air samples of the areas where asbestos was found were then collected by Bermuda Water Consultants and sent overseas for analysis.

The spokeswoman said: “The lab results came back, and the areas were deemed safe and asbestos-free.

“Lab results were submitted to the Department of Health and a certificate of completion is in progress, as a final assurance that the tested areas are safe, for students and staff.”

She added: “The ministry notes that no health issues have been reported regarding asbestos exposure.

“The ministry also notes that, in regards to concerns expressed regarding asbestos discovered in 2018 in the custodial main storeroom area at Clearwater, abatement works were conducted and completed, in December 2018.”

Mr Rabain repeated an apology to parents and staff made earlier this week “that they were not notified of these works in a timely fashion”.

He added: “It is our aim to be transparent and forthcoming, with all information, in regards to school facilities and work being conducted that relates to health and safety.

“Protocols are being put in place, to ensure that the ministry has all parent’s correct e-mail addresses and contact information, to allow for notices of this nature to be sent out quickly and efficiently.”

Mr Rabain said that the ministry encouraged school staff to highlight health and safety problems.

He added: “When necessary, licensed contractors are brought in to evaluate and recommend solutions.

“While their methods may not be familiar to, or understood by, persons outside of their licensed technicians, we rely on their expertise to ensure the safety of our schools.”

Cole Simons, the shadow education minister, said that the full report on Clearwater should be made public.

He added that the ministry always apologised, when it had been “caught out”.

Mr Simons said: “This government shares information with the people on a need-to-know basis, or when their backs are up against the wall. Transparency does not come easy for them.”

Nakisha Burgess, the president of the Clearwater Parent Teacher Student Association, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Published Aug 24, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 24, 2019 at 8:00 am)

More suspected asbestos found at school

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