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SHARON SCHOOLS Contractor must pay a penalty



Published: Wed, January 23, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The case raised no health or safety concerns, a board spokesman said.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- The contractor hired to remove asbestos from the Sharon Middle/High School as part of a $17 million renovation project will have to pay a $20,000 penalty for failing to follow federal regulations.

The Sharon City School Board approved a consent agreement Tuesday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will require Greenmoor Inc. of Verona to pay the civil penalty.

Greenmoor is to be paid a total of $660,000 for removal of asbestos from various sections of the building and most of that work has been completed.

About the situation: The case in question occurred in the summer of 2000 when Greenmoor was removing asbestos near electrical components, said Atty. Mark Longietti, school board solicitor.

Federal regulations call for the asbestos to be wetted down thoroughly with a hose before it is removed. Greenmoor, however, opted to use a misting system to wet the material instead because of the electrical system, Longietti said.

The company failed to first secure an EPA variance to use the misting system and an EPA inspector said later that the material wasn't adequately wetted down. That resulted in an administrative complaint filed against Greenmoor by the federal agency, Longietti said.

Although insisting that the asbestos was safely removed and posed no hazard, Greenmoor decided to pay a civil penalty rather than fight the case, he said.

The school district, as the building owner, must be a party to the consent agreement that resolves the case even though the district faces no penalty, Longietti said.

Withheld payments: The district has withheld $40,000 in payments that are due to Greenmoor and will forward $20,000 of that money to the EPA to cover the penalty, he said, adding that the district is confident that the matter posed no health hazard.

The EPA never claimed the removal raised any health issues, he said, adding that it appeared to be an enforcement issue with the agency.

Greenmoor did apply for and received an EPA variance to use the misting system elsewhere in the building, Longietti said.




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