Missoula school board to approve asbestos removal


MISSOULA, Mont. - The Missoula County Board of Trustees to approve asbestos removal in a number of area schools Tuesday.

Burley McWilliams, the operations and maintenance supervisor for Missoula County Public Schools, said they usually know where the asbestos is inside the schools because they do inspections every three years.

They also check the areas where there is asbestos to make sure it's contained. When it's contained it's not hazardous. McWilliams said it's only hazardous when it's disturbed, something that can happen during construction projects.

A lot of Missoula schools are under construction because of the 2020 Schools Bond.

The biggest asbestos removal project is in Hellgate High School. Crews working on the HVAC system found some in the attic, a place school officials weren't expecting to find it.

McWilliams wanted to assure the public that it will be removed in a very safe manor.

"It's all done through abatement contractors that are certified. They set up containment areas, and these containment areas run off negative air, which basically makes it airtight, and so they (will be) working on it in there. We typically don't do a lot while school is in session, but we have, and when we do it we do it all under code and under strict eyes of state agencies and federal agencies," said McWilliams.

McWilliams said the cost of the Hellgate project is hundreds of thousands of dollars and falls under the contingency for the 2020 bond budget.

Russell, Willard and Washington schools also have asbestos projects taking place.