Portion of October 11th Board meeting. Credit: Susan Nugent
Written by Jeff Epstein, editor of Citizens’ Media TV
UPDATE 12/19/2017: Response by Epic Environmental’s Jim Eberts
At no time was Epic asked or required by New Road or the District to verify the completeness of the roofing removal. Any statement to the contrary is incorrect.
At the October 11th, 2017 Board of Education meeting for Pinelands Regional School District, Chuck Romanoli of New Road Construction placed the blame for asbestos mishandling squarely into the lap of Epic Environmental, the district’s former environmental consultant. This blame is despite New Road’s role as the project’s “construction management” team, witch is responsible for ensuring that the contract and its specifications are conformed to, and communicating all progress and problems to the district.
The October 11th Board meeting was the first after parents discovered that their children had been exposed to some level of asbestos and other contaminants, for three straight weeks. This exposure was despite an urgent recommendation from Epic Environmental, that “all rooftop activities cease immediately.” Epic’s letter was delivered to the district on September 10th, but was not discovered by parents, the Superintendent, or the majority of the Board of Education, until October 3rd.
(The district’s official recording of this first critical meeting of the roofing construction crisis, “malfunctioned.” There is speculation that a local news organization recorded the full meeting, but currently all that is available are bits and pieces such as the above video. The only other known segment is of this highly edited 20 minute version.)
In this video, which was recorded by high school parent Susan Nugent, Romanoli stated:
Epic Environmental was the company that was hired by the district to make sure that the asbestos roof was removed properly and that the air testing was done properly. My company has nothing to do with asbestos management. We’re not licensed, we’re not trained….
Romanoli also asserted that comprehensive air-quality testing was conducted throughout the process, and that “the air-quality in this building is as clean as it is ever going to be.” He also revealed that New Road was paid “less than 2% of the project value.” The project’s total value is more than $50 million, placing New Road’s compensation at around $1 million.
Many in the audience were unsatisfied with Mr. Romanoli’s answers.
The full transcript of this video is below.
- Board of Education President Susan Ernst: Mr. Romanoli?
- Chuck Romanoli of New Road construction: OK. The gentleman that asked about who was responsible for checking to see whether or not material was off the roof. That was Epic Environmental. Epic Environmental was the company that was hired by the district to make sure that the asbestos roof was removed properly and that the air testing was done properly. My company has nothing to do with asbestos management. We’re not licensed, we’re not trained, and that’s not –
- Parent Dean Apgar: Then why are you here?
- Romanoli: Because we manage the construction.
- Ernst: Let the man answer the question.
- Romanoli: Our contract is less than 2% of the overall project value. Okay? And what was your other question?
- Unknown and Parent: You’re not being managed if you build roofs over it.
- Romanoli: Sorry?
- Unknown and Parent: Who is supervising?
- Apgar: Your job is to oversee the work being performed. I know. I do the same thing. Romanoli: Not the environmental work.
- Unknown and Parent: Yes, but you let them build another roof overtop the asbestos.
- Apgar: – overtop of asbestos.
- Romanoli: The environmental contractor did not watch the contractors remove the asbestos properly. When we discovered That the roof was not removed properly, we made the contractor remove the roof properly under the supervision of another environmental company, who is here tonight, who did multiple testing.
This school has never been cleaner than it is today. The school district has tested this facility prior to school opening, has tested the school while the school is open, tested the building while the school was closed, and tested the building while it was just opened now. It is never had a test that has indicated that there is any level of concern the building. The air-quality in this building is as clean as it is ever going to be.
- Ernst: Wait a minute. Please, ladies and gentlemen. Somebody is at the podium who has waited their turn to ask a question.
- Unknown Parent: All right. So in other words, you’re full of shit.
- Crowd: [applause]
- Unknown parent: In other words, you don’t know the answer to the questions. In other words you don’t have an answer.
- Unknown board member: You are out of order. We are not going to tolerate profanity at this public meeting, ma’am.
- Unknown and Parent: I am very sorry. I apologize to all of you.
- Ernst: please.
- Unknown parent: No, I won’t leave.
|Please support independent journalism. Buy a Citizens’ Media TV t-shirt.|