State health officials confirmed Monday they have completed an inspection of the site of the former Field House at Smithfield Selma High School. The building was removed last month by a contractor for Johnston County Schools without a county demolition permit and without notifying the NC Division of Public Health’s Hazards Control Unit.
On August 2nd, WTSB News first reported the Field House was removed without a demolition permit as required by state law. Smithfield Planning Director Paul Embler notified the Johnston County Inspections Office about the incident. After our story aired, the demolition permit was issued. Because the permit was issued after the building was removed, the county doubled the cost from $220 to $440.
At the same time, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) learned of the building removal and sent two inspectors to the site. School officials and the subcontractor for the project never notified the Health Hazard Control Unit which must receive notification anytime a building that contained asbestos is scheduled for demolition.
Cobey Culton, Press Assistant in the Office of Communication for the NCDHHS said, “After learning that we did not receive notification we made a site visit. Our inspectors determined that the asbestos-containing materials were removed in the proper manner.”
“The NC Division of Public Health’s Hazards Control Unit did not receive a demolition notification for the Smithfield-Selma site,” Culton said.
WTSB News has obtained a copy of an August 1st, 2016 letter from a company that identifies asbestos materials EEC, Inc. of Raleigh to Johnston County Schools. The letter states, “Just to let you know that before the demolition of any structure, the demolition contractor is required to obtain a permit from the NC Health Hazard Control Unit. I am not sure in your situation, the contractor obtained the permit or not. There is NO charge for obtaining a permit once asbestos is not there in the building.”
While the inspection has been completed the investigation is still ongoing as to whether a possible civil penalty may be levied.
“Any violation of the North Carolina Asbestos Hazard Management Program rules and/or National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants can result in a fine,” Colton stated in an email. “No determination has been made in this case.”