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Texas College Faces Asbestos Questions

Administrators from Kilgore College, a community college located in Kilgore, Texas, are very much in the hot seat right now as they face explosive charges that they have been exposing thousands of people to improperly handled asbestos over the last several years. The college’s Facilities Dirctor, Dalton Smith, has worked for Kilgore for the past fourteen years, and has admitted to having gone to federal authorities in order to make what he calls a years-long cover-up public.

According to Smith, he was ordered by his supervisor, Director of Special Projects Dan Beach, to hide evidence of the existence of the asbestos, which he says can be found in the Randolph C. Watson Library Rangerette gym, Stark Hall and the Quads dormitories, and the Dodson Auditorium. “I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Smith said. “Knowing thousands of people and children are being exposed to this stuff. I couldn’t stay silent anymore.” He indicated that the cover-up was likely meant to save time and money spent on abatement procedures.

Though the FBI has indicated that they can neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation is ongoing, and college administrators have also said that they have been notified of any investigation, school board trustee Carlos “Scooter” Griffin Jr. indicated that he had been questioned by federal investigators. Griffin said, “I did have FBI and EPA investigators question me on three separate incidents. They asked about Dodson Auditorium. They specifically asked me if I knew asbestos was present, and I said I did not know that it was. I learned far more from then than they did from me.” The college’s president did not respond to calls for comment; neither did Smith’s supervisor.

According to Smith, there have been several different instances in which asbestos was discovered and improperly disposed of by untrained, unlicensed employees. Asbestos removal requires special training, and must be done either by a licensed asbestos consultant or under their supervision. Instead of following those rules, Smith says that college administrators indicated that a maintenance supervisor, Rick Murphy, should do the work. “He is not licensed, and he just dressed up in a hazmat suit and went in there with Terry Huckaby and cut it out. Dan Beach told Rick Murphy to suit up and make it look like it was an official abatement. He went in there and cut out a 4 by 4 square and put it in a double-bagged trash bag. Then they just went and threw it away in dumpsters on campus.”

Asbestos exposure can cause a number of serious and even deadly illnesses, including mesothelioma.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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