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posted: 7/31/2012 11:02 AM

State fines Lake Zurich District 95 because of elementary school asbestos management plan

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By Jennifer Earl

Lake Zurich Unit District 95 is disputing state allegations that May Whitney Elementary School had violations in its asbestos management plan.

The district received notice of an $18,000 fine issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health for alleged violations in the asbestos plan at the school at 100 Church St., spokeswoman Jean Malek confirmed.

"We have responded to their notice and also requested a hearing," Malek said. "We are awaiting a prehearing conference and any other response."

According to a certified letter from IDPH obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the penalty includes 18 counts of violations.

The district plans to challenge the alleged violations, which include: failure to maintain asbestos records, failure to notify the department before an asbestos tile removal project in February 2011, and not ensuring the 1990 building addition was inspected.

"Anytime you do renovation or demolition, you have to have a contractor come in and assess if there's asbestos and develop a plan to abate it," said Melaney Arnold, IDPH communications manager.

Asbestos has been a longtime concern for school officials.

In 2007, May Whitney was closed for the academic year because of mold, forcing 436 registered students and 45 teachers to relocate. The mold appeared after a storm caused flooding in the hallway and cafeteria. Cleaning crews saw asbestos underneath carpeting and floor tiles.

District officials said they have always made asbestos abatement a priority at the school. Since the district received notice of a penalty in late May, steps have been taken to remodel asbestos-concerning areas, officials said.

Lyle Erstad, District 95's director of facilities, said officials authorized Colfax Corporation, a Chicago environmental remediation company, to remove carpeting in May and abate asbestos-containing tile under the carpet by Monday. After the asbestos abatement, new tile and wall base will be installed the next day.

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