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Burke School Closes Til Thursday After Workers Find Asbestos on Chimney

Interim Superintendent Herb Levine says a small area of an exterior chimney that was demolished contained asbestos. School will reopen on Thursday for students.

Students at the will get an unexpected day off after school officials, the Department of Environmental Protection and contractors found a small area of an exterior demolished chimney stack that tested positive for asbestos on Tuesday.

The findings came on the heels of the start of construction on repairs at the school -- replacing the roof, windows and installing three new boilers. The work will be partially reimbursed through the MSBA Green Repair Program for more than 53 percent of the cost.

The City Council voted to authorize a bond in the full amount of $4.2 million for the Burke and Welch schools last week.

“All work ceased by noon after workers reported the findings and a decision to close the school was made at 4 p.m. this afternoon,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Herb Levine told the School Committee Tuesday night.

Levine said he and the New England Corridor DEP contact, Peabody Building Commissioner Kevin Goggin, Principal Judy McNiff, School Committee member and Burke parent Brandi Carpenter and both contractors and consultant for the project inspected the area Tuesday afternoon.

“The plan is to have state certified asbestos removal experts place a protective barrier surrounding the area; bag and dispose of the debris according to state code immediately,” said Levine. The process should only take one day, and work actually began Tuesday night.

Levine said students would be able to return to school on Thursday.

Carpenter, reached by phone late Tuesday afternoon, said she was assured that at no time was any of the asbestos released inside the school. She said the consensus was that the best solution to removing the material was closing the school for a day.

For more information on the repair project itself at the Burke, click here to go the school website to find project updates and further details. The entire repair project is slated for completion by next summer.

Mark Richards May 31, 2012 at 04:52 AM
The students probably celebrated their unexpected day off from school, not knowing that their lives could have been in danger of asbestos poisoning. I hope the school educates them about the danger after doing the removal, so that symptoms can be identified early if anyone was affected.
Mark Richards November 12, 2012 at 04:18 AM
The school officials did the right thing of shutting down the school for a few days to avoid harming its students by exposing them to asbestos. Other parts of the school should also be tested by the licensed removal experts just to ensure that there aren't any other possible areas that could pose danger to the students like tiling and flooring.

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