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Archdiocese of Philadelphia Settles Asbestos Management Violations at 12 Schools - In settlement with EPA, Archdiocese Agrees to Comprehensive Compliance Plan for 222 Local Schools

Release Date: 1/19/2006
Contact Information: Mike Frankel, 215-814-2665

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has settled alleged violations of a federal law regulating the management of asbestos materials in school buildings. In an April 2005 administrative complaint, EPA cited the Archdiocese for violations of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (“AHERA”) at 12 Archdiocesan schools located in Philadelphia and nearby communities.

Based on inspections in the summer of 2003, EPA’s complaint cited violations of AHERA requirements for management plans, asbestos inspection/surveillance, and employee training. EPA’s complaint did not allege that students or other building occupants were exposed to asbestos as a result of these violations.

The schools named in EPA’s complaint included Gwynedd Mercy Academy H.S., Gwynedd Valley, Pa.; Holy Ghost Preparatory School, Bensalem, Pa.; Our Lady of Grace Parish School, Penndel, Pa.; Queen of Peace School, Glenside, Pa.; St. Bede the Venerable School, Holland, Pa.; and the following schools in Philadelphia: Norwood Fonte Bonne Academy, St. Georges School, St. Martin De Porres School, St. Monica’s Senior School, St. Monica’s Junior School, West Philadelphia Catholic H.S., and Visitation B.V.M. School.

As part of the settlement announced today, the Archdiocese documented $68,992 in expenditures to comply with asbestos management requirements at the twelve schools cited in the complaint. In addition, the Archdiocese has agreed to a comprehensive AHERA compliance plan for all 222 of its schools in Philadelphia and surrounding communities. The Archdiocese has already hired two certified asbestos inspectors and management planners to bring the rest of the schools into compliance with AHERA requirements.

AHERA requires owners of public, private, and parochial school buildings to develop a “management plan” for asbestos-containing materials, detailing procedures to prevent releases of asbestos fibers from these materials. The management plan must be available to staff, parents, or other interested parties. The law also requires schools to conduct surveys of asbestos-containing materials in their schools, train personnel in AHERA compliance, and conduct follow up inspections every three years and conduct twice-yearly surveillance of asbestos materials.

At the time of the settlement all of the named schools were in compliance except for Visitation BVM School who had yet to provide EPA with the name of the school’s required “Designated Person” for asbestos compliance and proof that the required training had been completed.

EPA attempts to work cooperatively with public, private, and parochial school authorities to resolve AHERA violations without litigation. Under the law, EPA may agree to reduce or eliminate penalties due to the schools’ cooperation with EPA, and compliance activities and expenditures.

For more information on asbestos in schools go to