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Asbestos Concerns at Eastern Shore District High

To the Editors:

In advocating for a new school to replace Gaetz Brook and Eastern Shore District High, the Community Campus Vision Association has recently obtained a coy of a hazardous materials assessment done on the former Gordon Bell High School in Cole Harbour, in 2010 – 2011.  

As readers may know, Gordon Bell was recently demolished, and has been replaced by a multi-million dollar all-weather sports field. The demolition was done following the recommendation of Eagle Project Management, who advised against any future public use of the building. The company reported that the building contained asbestos in the ceiling and floor tiles, the boiler room pipe lag, and a fume hood on site. Eagle commented that airborne asbestos was linked to cancer, and “depending on the level of activity within the building, the known asbestos in floor and ceiling tiles could become airborne and could become a health hazard.” The report also noted that the “current design, operating systems, property development, shape, size, and appearance are not consistent with modern facilities”. 

We obtained the Gordon Bell assessment to provide a baseline comparison to the Eastern Shore District High assessment, which was done in 1998 and updated in 2015. The conditions at Eastern Shore are as bad, and in some cases worse than those in Gordon Bell. For example, a number of samples of gyproc joint compound were found to exceed acceptable standards, (1% asbestos content – ESDH samples 2.2%) The report assumed that all gyproc joint compound within the school would be the same. Pipe parging sampled far exceeded the 1% standard (60-70%). Some sampled floor and ceiling tiles contained asbestos that exceeded the guidelines.  

So to be clear, Gordon Bell was built several years after ESDH; it has not been used as a school for years, and was replaced by Cole Harbour High and Auburn Drive High (both excellent facilities offering far more to students than ESDH ever could). Gordon Bell was demolished because of health hazards, as well as outdated design and technology, but at least it had a water supply and waste treatment.   

Yet ESDH still stands, with those same health hazards, trucked-in water, an inadequate sewage disposal system, and outdated design and technology. Yet for some unfathomable reason (well, they wanted a new school), Eastern Passage has a new high school underway, which will gut the student population of Cole Harbour and Auburn by half. 

What about our students on the Eastern Shore, the land that time forgot? We don't just want, but need a new school. Perhaps the School Board in its infinite wisdom has plans to bus our kids to Cole Harbour? Just saying... 

Jeanne McKenna 

Community Campus Vision Association

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