Asbestos containment acoustic ceiling tile replacement – Delay at Queen Elizabeth and East Wiltshire
August 4, 2016
INTERNAL key messages and Q+A
Government had planned to complete the replacement of asbestos-containing ceiling tiles at eight Island schools over the summer.
As we started on the first three schools, we realized that the required and approved asbestos abatement protocol was more involved than we anticipated, so there is only enough time to complete asbestos remediation in six schools this summer.
We need to ensure the safety of those working on the remediation, and to ensure the schools where work was done are properly tested and cleaned before staff and students return to school in the fall.
We have been working closely with the contractor and WCB to do the work thoroughly and safely for all involved.
Two schools – Queen Elizabeth and East Wiltshire – will be done as soon as possible next summer.
Given that asbestos-containing materials do not pose a health risk as long as they are properly managed and maintained in good condition, and it is imperative that that remediation work be done safely and thoroughly, we felt it would be better to wait until next summer to do the remaining two schools.
Why couldn’t the work be done in time?
The successful bidder for the tender is working flat out on the first three schools now(Glen Stewart, Elliot River, and Central Queens)
Ecole Evangeline has been awarded and the contractor is working on this school. Later this summer, two small spaces in two other schools will be completed. These two schools will be completed prior to school starting.
Given the nature of a school, with many spaces like classrooms, labs, offices, etc. completing the work, while undertaking the proper safety measures to protect the workers, has taken longer than expected.
There’s only nine weeks in the summer to do this work, with 2-3 weeks of cleaning required after the remediation before the school opens.
It is a very tight schedule, as teachers often return to the schools the last week of August and we have to ensure this work is done thoroughly, and it’s safe for their return.
With this schedule and the rigorous safety protocols, there was no way to do the remaining two schools in time to allow for cleaning before the beginning of the school year.
Is there any risk to students and staff at the remaining schools?
Health Canada guidelines say there is no significant health risk if materials containing asbestos are properly managed and maintained in good condition.
Many schools in Canada have asbestos issues with no removal plans but most have an asbestos management plan.
An asbestos management plan will be put in place for Queen Elizabeth and East Wiltshire, similar to the plan currently in place at Three Oaks Senior High, until such time as it can be removed safety from these schools.
Staff will be informed that acoustic ceiling tiles in the school should not be disturbed and that for any maintenance requirements with ceiling tiles,they should contact the Public Schools Branch who will follow proper protocols for handling the issue.
Asbestos-containing materials do not pose a health risk as long as they are properly managed and maintained in good condition, so while it is unfortunate the work cannot be completed this summer, there is no risk to staff or students by delaying this work until next summer.