After an environmental health and safety specialist was forced to resign after repeatedly raising concerns about the levels of asbestos on the Sonoma State campus, he is filing a lawsuit against the University, located in Northern California. The school admits that there is asbestos present in its buildings on campus, but deny that it poses any danger to students and faculty.
The lawsuit alleges that University supervisors ignored Thomas R. Sargent's warnings about asbestos contamination and then retaliated against him when he reported it to the authorities. The lawsuit, filed in May 2014, seeks around $15 million in general and punitive damages from the CSU system.
After finding high levels of asbestos on a windowsill, Sargent became concerned that fibers were being dispersed throughout heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system of six buildings. "The university [then] did its own testing with a different method and results." Sargent is not convinced the testing met professional standards.
The California State school is also alleged to have tampered with evidence in two instances:
- Classes and offices were extensively cleaned against a judge's order before a test for asbestos
- Email communications regarding the whistleblowing and asbestos issue were inappropriately deleted by the University president
The school newspaper reports that teachers are choosing alternate locations - away from their offices and classrooms -- to meet students. Some students believe that Stevenson Hall, the building at the center of the controversy, is "not a safe place on campus."
Would you feel safe sending your child to school showing high levels of asbestos in classrooms and offices? Please share your thoughts within a comment below.
Source: Press Democrat