Montebello Unified Sues Companies For Spreading Asbestos

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Montebello Unified School District is collectively suing two companies for $3.5 million, alleging that untrained workers spread asbestos-containing materials throughout various schools in 2015 while work was being done to install energy-efficient lighting.

The MUSD’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Industry-based Evergreen Energy Solutions LLC and Enveniam LLC, which is headquartered in Roswell, Georgia.

A representative for Enveniam did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit, which alleges negligence, breach of contract and breach of an implied covenant to perform work in a competent manner. However, an Evergreen spokesman released a statement.

“Evergreen was unaware of your referenced item via your inquiry, consequently we are very disappointed,” the statement read. “To date the district has yet to communicate anything to the reference item. We are immediately inquiring with the district regarding this matter.”

The suit filed last week states that the MUSD and the two firms entered a contract in February 2015 for Evergreen to “consult and procure” and for Enveniam to install energy-efficient lighting at Montebello Intermediate School, Montebello Gardens Elementary School and Bell Gardens High School. The MUSD agreed to pay $2 million, the suit states.

Before work began, the parties met in April 2015 and discussed fireproofing materials that contained asbestos at Montebello Intermediate, Bell Gardens High and the district office, according to the complaint.

The meeting highlighted that it was “critical that the contractor had the requisite eight hours of asbestos-awareness training at a minimum,” the complaint states.

A month later, the work began at Montebello Intermediate. In August 2015, the MUSD’s hazardous materials coordinator suspected that the workers accidentally disturbed insulation materials carrying asbestos fibers in two classrooms, the suit states.

“MUSD immediately shut down all construction activities and retained an environmental consultant to test for asbestos,” the suit states.

A subsequent inspection by the South Coast Air Quality Management District showed that Enveniam “had used uncontrolled methods by untrained asbestos workers to spread asbestos-containing materials throughout not only Montebello Intermediate, but to other sites, as well,” according to the lawsuit.

To ensure the safety of students, the MUSD “initiated a massive cleanup operation, with at least five separate contractors tackling the widespread asbestos contamination,” the suit states.

With workers on the job 24 hours a day, the remediation plan was completed by Aug. 20, 2015, at a cost of $3.5 million, according to the school district’s court papers.

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