Demolition began on the Newton North campus in June
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)
The city announced today that contractors have halted work at the new Newton North High School construction site after workers uncovered a pipe covered in asbestos insulation earlier this week.
The insulation contains a kind of asbestos that can become airborne and pose a health risk said Jeremy Solomon, a spokesman for Mayor David B. Cohen. He said workers at the site had already been taking precautions against airborne asbestos by controlling dust and monitoring the air quality at the site and inside the existing high school building. Newton North High School has been in session during the construction project.
Solomon said "the entire operation shut down" when a worker found the pipe Monday.
Solomon said he did not know the size of the pipe or the amount of asbestos on it. It was then sent for testing and state officials at the Department of Environmental Protection were notified when it was found to contain asbestos, he said.
"Public safety is our primary focus here," Solomon said.
Last May, city officials discovered old floor tiles containing asbestos were buried on the construction site and hired a remediation firm to deal with it. At the time, they minimized health concerns, saying the asbestos was of a "nonfriable" [non-airborne] type.
McPhail Associates, the licensed site professional overseeing the asbestos removal, has submitted an amended work plan to state DEP officials, but work at the site cannot continue until state officials review the amended plan. The overall cost of the new school project is currently estimated at $155 million.
-- Megan Woolhouse
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