Attorney General Madigan: North Shore Schools Settle Asbestos Removal Issues at District Buildings

Chicago–(ENEWSPF)–April 12, 2011.  A Lake County school district will pay a civil penalty for numerous problems associated with a 2007 asbestos removal project that prompted the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to halt renovation at three North Shore school buildings, according to Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

According to a complaint filed simultaneously with today’s agreement, North Shore School District 112 hired a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove asbestos-containing floor tiles in three schools during the summer of 2007. Acting on a tip, an IDPH inspector halted the projects in July 2007 when he found workers improperly removing and pulverizing asbestos-containing floor tiles which can release asbestos fibers into the environment. The inspection also revealed improperly stored pulverized tiles in unmarked containers and a lack of warning signs posted to alert the public to the asbestos removal at Elm Place, Indian Trail and Sherwood schools.

After addressing the cited violations, IDPH later issued clearances in August 2007 to the school district allowing for the reoccupation of the schools. In addition, North Shore Schools hired an asbestos consultant to help bring the district into compliance with state and federal asbestos abatement laws. In all, the district spent more than $52,000 on asbestos removal projects during the 2009-2010 school year. It also paid a $10,000 civil penalty as part of today’s agreement.

“Public health experts agree there is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos,” Madigan said. “It is vitally important that strict adherence to the rules and regulations regarding the safe handling and removal of asbestos containing materials are followed for the safety of workers and the public. I’m pleased that the school district worked with authorities to correct the hazardous violations and addressed our concerns.”

“To protect the health and safety of students, teachers and staff in the North Shore School District, the Illinois Department of Public Health investigated and cited the district for improper oversight of asbestos abatement in its schools,” said IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “Although previously used as a building material, asbestos is now considered a serious indoor air pollutant with links to lung cancer.”

Robert Lanzerotti was named as a defendant in his capacity as the North Shore School District employee designated to oversee compliance with requirements of the Illinois Asbestos Abatement Act and other asbestos regulations. Lanzerotti is no longer employed by the school district.

Assistant Attorney General Evan McGinley is handling the case for Madigan’s Environmental Bureau.