Asbestos work
extended at school

Bad weather slows tests and possible
cleanup at King Intermediate,
lengthening vacation

King Intermediate School in Kaneohe will not reopen until Jan. 13, two days later than scheduled, so that crews can complete cleanup and testing for asbestos and lead, the state said yesterday.

Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said recent bad weather delayed testing and possible subsequent cleanup.

The Department of Education wants to ensure the safety of the 800 King Intermediate students by completing the cleanup and testing before allowing them back to the school, said Richard Soo, of the department's school fire and safety manager.

Teachers and staff, however, will report for meetings as scheduled on 8 a.m. Monday in the library, which has been deemed free of contaminants, according to the department.

The cleanup and schoolwide testing came after the detection of low levels of asbestos in five buildings and a portable. School officials shut the school down three days early for winter break after parents expressed concern about the discovery.

The department's news release last night said the school's year will not be extended to make up for the lost days.

Teacher Geraldine Best alerted authorities Nov. 4 of possible contamination when she saw dust flying while workers wearing respirators worked outside a classroom, and she and students were inside.

Tests confirmed the presence of asbestos, which workers disturbed when they scraped and sanded the building's exterior.

Building G and a portable were evacuated Dec. 7, but the school remained open until Buildings F, H and J were also found to have low levels of asbestos contamination Dec. 14 and the entire school was shut.

Soo said in testing done so far, "everything is coming out very safe and clean."

The test results of contaminated rooms that have been cleaned have come out safe, according to the department.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance, but inhaling its tiny fibers can cause lung disease, including cancer, usually as a result of prolonged, heavy exposure.

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