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Air quality tests show Syosset High School is safe

Syosset High School was closed after asbestos was

Syosset High School was closed after asbestos was discovered on the site. The school will reopen Saturday. (March 26, 2010) Photo Credit: Photo by John Dunn

Syosset High School was cleared to reopen Saturday after air quality tests showed that the building was safe, district officials said Friday, one day after asbestos was found at the school.

The high school was evacuated Thursday after district workers discovered asbestos planks outside near a Dumpster. District officials said three custodians will be tested for exposure to the substance, but did not release their names.

A note on the district's Web site posted Friday said all activities at the school will resume. However, the school is closed for vacation next week and reopens April 7. Remediation efforts have been under way since Thursday.

Karen Williamson, spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Labor, said the district had received an emergency variance Thursday in order to start cleaning up the site.

"My understanding is that it was an accidental disturbance," she said. "They have taken all the appropriate steps under our regulations."

The district's head of facilities discovered the planks by a Dumpster outside the high school after a routine cleanup of the boiler room, Syosset officials said in a statement.

Officials said Friday that district workers were cleaning and painting the boiler room floor and no asbestos abatement was being done. The planks were located on a shelf.

Syosset staff bagged the material from inside the boiler room and took it outside to the rear of the building next to the Dumpster.

After testing by the district's environmental services contractor confirmed the substance was asbestos, some 2,000 students and all personnel were evacuated within 30 minutes, around 11 a.m.

District officials confirmed the type of asbestos found was "friable asbestos" - asbestos that can be broken into smaller particles. Undisturbed asbestos poses little risk. Friable asbestos is of concern because fibers are more readily released into the air, and if inhaled, may cause serious illness.

The district had completed an inspection in 2009 and there was no indication of asbestos in that report.

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