GRPS fined for violations in asbestos mitigation at school

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state agency is recommending Grand Rapids Public Schools be fined thousands of dollars for staff and student asbestos exposure at an elementary school.

According to documents state officials sent to a parent, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed on July 24 the district pay a $10,500 fine for four workplace safety violations at North Park Montessori School. The violations include failing to inform employees about the presence of asbestos in the building and failing to train staff how to deal with possible exposure.

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An undated photo of North Park Montessori School in Grand Rapids.

The agency is also proposing penalties for two contractors for a variety of safety violations. They include failing to provide workers with proper monitoring and safety gear when demolishing walls that might have contained asbestos. MIOSHA wants one company to pay a $4,000 fine and the other $2,000.

Each party can either appeal or pay within 30 days.

North Park Montessori School was shut down in February amid concerns about asbestos exposure during construction. For about six weeks, construction crews had been working on replacing the school’s heating system and adding air conditioning.

Health officials say it’s likely that staff, students and workers breathed some of the dust caused by the demolition but think the potential health impact as low.

GRPS spokesman John Helmholdt says the incorrect address was listed for the notice, so the district didn’t receive it until Thursday, when they reached out to MIOSHA.

Helmholdt says GRPS has sent the notice to the district’s legal counsel and Nova Environmental for review. He said GRPS hasn’t yet determined if it will pay the fine, appeal it or seek a lower fine.

Helmholdt says GRPS is working on a list of corrections it’s already taken related to the violations listed in the report. He says that list will be released to the public when it’s finished.

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