Students Cleaned Out Asbestos-Contaminated Building in Ohio

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A criminal investigation is underway at an Ohio school, where students as young as 13 allegedly helped remove debris from an asbestos-contaminated building.

For several weeks, teenage volunteers for the Buckeye Education School in Berea, Ohio cleaned out a building in Middleburg Heights, which the school was interested in expanding in to, reported WKYC.com. The students, allegedly without using protective gear, removed fixtures from the building, which a state environmental protection agency (EPA) analysis later revealed to be contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogenic material. 

A formal investigation began December 2012, with inspectors finding three dumpsters containing asbestos-contaminated debris during a mid-month site visit. Regulators said it might be impossible to determine just how much of the cancer-causing material the young people were exposed to.

Darren Clink, a man living next door to the building, filmed the young people working.

“The entire site was contaminated and the people who were doing it were all children,” he told WKYC. “We’ve been abating schools for the last 30 years in this town just to keep our kids safe, and then they come in and to save a buck, throw a bunch of kids in harm’s way.” 

The religiously-affiliated school is operated by Sterling Education, a national outfit that operates 35 private schools across the nation. Bruce Carmichael, a representative for Sterling Education, told WKYC that they were currently “fully cooperating with the EPA for an amicable resolution to the situation.”