Pre-planning and good design helped keep asbestos out of Danbury High School this summer, city officials said.
The city set out to replace 47-year-old windows this summer at Danbury High School without contaminating the school with asbestos caulk used to seal the windows nearly 50 years ago.
"No caulk entered the building. The caulk was abated first," said Thomas Hughes, superintendent of construction for Danbury.
Hughes painted a picture with words of the project setting. He said first each window sits in a frame. The frame sits in a hole in the school wall. The frame and the window are screwed into the masonary wall. What happened 47 years ago was workers applied an asbestos caulk to the outside portion of the frame, Hughes said. It was never inside the building.
To keep the caulk out of the building, it was removed first, Hughes said. The area around it was scrapped and cleaned. That step had been planned by an employee at Brooks Environmental, a licensed environmental asbestos planner, named Mark Granville. The city hired Oscar's Abatement to handle the actual work. Before the work started, the city held weekly telephone meetings with everyone involved to make sure the job would go as planned. One of the main goals was to make sure the school would be safe and ready for school on August 28. The city also saved money by having city workers oversee the project.
Hughes said, please remember, this wasn't an asbestos abatement job to begin with. It was a window job. The asbestos was safe and sound where it was. It wasn't "friable," which is the term that means flaky and airborne. That's when asbestos is dangerous and must be removed.
"Some people would think we'd never heard the word 'asbestos' before," said City Engineer Farid Khori.
Hughes said the windows and asbestos were disposed of in a lined dumpster, and it was bagged and wrapped and labeled.
"Brooks Lab was there every day. Every window was logged," Hughes said. "The school will be certified habitable before the students arrive. No caulk went into the school. Nothing. It will be hepa-vaced. There will be no particles and no dust."
"We are not taking any chances with the city's children," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.