Environmental Consultant Updates
May 16th, 2023
Dear Ms. McTiernan:
Pennoni is providing this update to the Scranton School District (District) to detail response actions relative to asbestos containing materials discovered during recent renovations at the Robert Morris Elementary School located at 1842 Boulevard Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.
Pennoni has been in close coordination with Scranton School District regarding ongoing renovations at Robert Morris Elementary School (RMES). On Thursday, May 11, 2023, Pennoni was notified of suspect material identified above ceilings on the second floor of the east wing. This normally inaccessible area between the ceiling and the roof of the building, was being accessed by the project’s mechanical contractor to surveil for routing locations of pipe and ductwork to be installed at a later date. The suspect material was then assessed by Pennoni licensed asbestos building inspectors, and the determination was made to collect and mitigate this material on Saturday, May 13th during a previously schedule asbestos floor tile abatement in Rooms 201 and 202. Upon investigation, the area of impact was greater than anticipated and work progressed into Sunday to conclude the clean-up.
The material is presumed to be asbestos and most likely was deposited in the space following the removal of cast iron roof drain piping. It is undetermined as to when this occurred, but the assessed quality and condition are defined as a Major Fiber Release in both the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) and the District’s Management Plan. Approximately 150 linear feet of this friable and damaged material was located in this area, described as a space with limited access, no occupancy, and not part of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system (HVAC). While a clean-up of the damaged material occurred under containment and areas were HEPA vacuumed, the entire space (~5,000 SF) could not be rendered free of visible dust. Due to the age of the structure, the location and confinement of the space, dust remains in sections of this wing on the top of ceiling plaster.
Due to the potential for asbestos contamination within parts of the space, Pennoni is recommending the following conditions of reoccupancy:
- Sealing of any openings or pathways between the ceiling and the space with dust tight barriers.
- Air sampling of occupied areas on a regular, pre-defined schedule.
- Surveillance inspections of the building at a greater frequency (currently semiannually).
- Labeling of access points to the designated area with asbestos signage.
- Suspension of construction activities on the second floor in this area to prevent disruption.
Air sampling via both TEM and PCM methodologies has been conducted throughout the area and all tests outside of contained asbestos abatement areas, have passed USEPA criteria for “clean air.” Despite the sampling and confirmation of no exposure in the areas sampled, the area above the ceiling may be contaminated and should be considered partially abated.
As an alternative to the above conditions of reoccupancy, the District may consider closure of the school and relocation of staff and students to other schools for the remainder of this school year. Such a relocation would allow Pennoni, in conjunction with a licensed abatement contractor and the district engineer, to commence the work necessary to clear the ceiling area and abate the potential asbestos hazard. This would allow up to 4 weeks of activities to occur and to deliver these areas back to renovation contractors to resume the remaining work needed to have the school ready for the 2023-2024 school year.
If you have any questions concerning this report or if you require additional information, please feel free to contact us.
PENNONI ASSOCIATES INC.
Rocco DiPietro, CSP - Senior Health and Safety Professional
Michael Baltrusaitis, CHMM, CSP - Senior Health and Safety Professional