Asbestos Discovery Halts California High School Renovation

by Sokolove Law

When an “unexpected” form of asbestos was discovered during a major construction project at Berkeley High School last fall, the project ground to a halt.

The delays came at the start of the 2012-13 school year after non-friable asbestos was discovered by construction workers in a gym undergoing demolition, according to Berkeleyside, a local news site. Although an asbestos survey of the building was carried out before the project started, the presence of non-friable asbestos was completely unexpected.

“We ran into a fairly large change that we weren’t aware of,” Lew Jones, the school district’s maintenance director, told the news site. “It’s not something you could have seen before you demolished part of the building.”

An asbestos-containing material (ACM) that can be crumbled or otherwise reduced to powder when dry is considered friable asbestos. Non-friable asbestos is more difficult to pulverize and is less likely to become airborne, although it can still pose a health risk. When asbestos becomes airborne, its tiny, needle-sharp fibers can be inhaled into the body where they become embedded in the lungs and other internal organs. The embedded fibers can cause irritation and scarring. This can trigger serious health problems such as mesothelioma.

Since contractors were not expecting to find the material, they were forced to push the demolition schedule back seven weeks in compliance with safety protocols and to run soil tests.

Now that the “all clear” has been given, the project is back on track. The school’s principal hopes that the new building will be ready in spring 2014.

Because of its widespread use in so many construction products over the years, asbestos can be found almost anywhere. If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and received a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation and to find out if a mesothelioma lawyer can help you.

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