DALLAS – Contractors are deep into renovations and upgrades a at about 50 campuses across Dallas Independent School District. In some of those schools, removing asbestos is part of a major Bond project.
The handling of work, like asbestos abatement and removal has been a touchy subject for some community members who say they are concerned about safety.
Vendors say they take precautions seriously. Elizabeth Ponce, President of Ponce Construction says it is safe to believe most schools built before 1970 may have some traces of asbestos.
Summer school just ended at Lipscomb Elementary School. Contractors have been busy on this campus for several days. The workers are tackling demolition and asbestos abatement projects.
“So we go down this hall, we’ll see the other classrooms that are getting renovated,” Ponce said as she gave a rare tour of a basement area where her team of contractors has been removing floor tiles and asbestos.
The company is among those hired for Dallas ISD’s ongoing 2015 Bond and bridge projects.
Ponce says extra precaution is taken in areas where they find signs of asbestos. Asbestos is a material that poses cancer and lung disease hazards. Ponce, is a graduate of Dallas ISD and has been in the construction business 13 years. She and her workers say they are not surprised by some community concerns when it comes to doing this kind of asbestos removal in buildings that are occupied.
"I mean everybody’s kind of taken aback and says I don’t want to be in the area when they are removing asbestos,” Ponce explained. “But we take a lot of precautions in removing the material from the building.”
The contractors say they block off contaminated areas with heavy duty materials. They make sure vents and openings are not exposed. The crew also sets up a three-stage decontamination zone near the area they are treating for asbestos.
Ponce added, ”In order for us to make your classrooms better, we have to be in there trying to take care of everything when the students aren’t there.”
Dallas ISD says it has a policy to limit some Bond projects to after school and weekends. Contractors and District workers say that is part of a plan to reduce the impact on the school and learning environment.