Investigation uncovers high levels of lead dust in two St. Louis schools

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by Lauren Trager / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 1 at 10:00 PM

 (KMOV) – High levels of lead have been found inside two St. Louis Public School Districts after another company noticed shortcuts being made in the painting process.

Last week News 4 was alerted by the Painter’s Union that the company contracted out to paint two high school buildings; Sumner and Roosevelt, were not properly containing the hazardous lead paint.

In a cell phone video taken by members of the union, it showed buckets of debris, paint chips scattered everywhere and workers allegedly sweeping the potentially hazardous material right out the door.

After union representatives addressed the issue at a school board meeting on Thursday, an investigation was conducted.

The district did their own sampling of the paint chips found at both schools and the results confirm what the painter’s union members feared.

“It’s a very serious situation not only for the workers, but each and every student getting ready to get in there,” Rich Lucks of the union said.

In a statement released by Patrick Wallace, spokesperson for the St. Louis Public Schools, the district found lead dust in the schools at levels higher that both the state and federal officials allow.

This issue will not only affect students and staff but it will impact infants belonging to students who are now allowed to bring their children on campus.

“Any place that those babies might be, that’s a serious, serious health issue,” Lucks added.

OSHA representatives also visited both campuses this past week to conduct tests of their own.

In the statement, the district said they spoke with the contractor, Raineri Construction and the company agreed to clean up at their own cost.

A representative with Raineri told News 4’s Lauren Trager that they have yet to determine if his workers or someone else’s caused the lead dust.

The union says either way the cleanup process isn’t cheap or easy.

“I can only imagine that stuff is in and out of all the school books. I believe it’s in the carpet, they had fans blowing, this stuff went all over the entire school from what we seen,” Lucks said.  

Raineri isn’t even a licensed company to clean-up lead. The owner wouldn’t tell News 4 if he intended to hire someone who is. 

Until the painting, clean-up process is completed and both buildings are deemed clear of any lead paint dust levels, the schools are off-limits to students and staff.

Below is the complete statement issued by St. Louis Public School officials:

After receiving reports on June 27, 2013 regarding potential lead paint issues at Roosevelt and Sumner high schools, the District’s Hazmat Consultant conducted an independent investigation of the on-going painting activities at the two schools to evaluate the presence of lead dust in the schools.

Preliminary findings indicate the presence of lead dust in excess of Federal and State standards exists in both schools where contractors are working.

Today (July 1, 2013) the District and its construction management team met with the contractor to review the independent findings and develop proposed solutions.

The contractor has acknowledged that lead dust will be remediated at the contractor’s cost at both schools once the contractor’s final cleaning is complete.  The District’s Hazmat Consultant will conduct independent testing to validate the contractor’s remediation efforts prior to students or staff occupying the school buildings.

It is important to note that during the painting project on-going at Roosevelt and Sumner high schools, the building has been off-limits to students and staff and will remain so until the project is complete and the building is deemed clear of any lead paint dust levels in excess of Federal or State standards. 

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