KILGORE -- The Department of State Health Services has closed its case on the "complaint investigation" the agency opened in November following media reports regarding Kilgore College, DHS Press Officer Chris Van Deusen said.
"Our inspections did not turn up any violations of state or federal asbestos laws, so the complaints were not substantiated, and the case has been closed," Van Deusen wrote in an email.
The complaint stemmed from media reports the department had seen regarding the asbestos allegations against KC.
During an asbestos investigation, TDSHS makes sure the entity notified the department properly of any abatement, had licensed contractors do the assessments, established a plan with the contractor for dealing with asbestos and had a separate company perform any necessary removal or abatement, Van Deusen explained in November. Also, the inspectors looked to establish everyone engaging in asbestos assessment or removal followed mandated procedures and the established plan.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality released results from its investigation, finding five "minor" violations, Craddock said. Four of the five violations have been corrected and none of them were related to asbestos issues.
"With both the TCEQ and TDSHS not finding any violations to state or federal asbestos laws, it is now official that these asbestos allegations were false," KC spokesman Chris Craddock said. "At no time were students, employees or visitors to our campuses in any danger from asbestos."
KC has made the safety of its students, staff and visitors a "top priority," he said, adding the administrators would not have let anyone into a building if they felt it was not safe.
"It is unfortunate that the college has spent more than three months defending these unfounded allegations, losing valuable time that should have been used for normal college business," Craddock said. "Instead, the barrage of asbestos allegations by one person has consumed the college and its administration."
During its February meeting, the KC Board of Trustees unanimously approved a long-term asbestos management plan with ERI Consulting, Inc. at a total cost of $24,200. The plan will include all KC-owned properties including the main campus, the Longview campus and the KC Firing and Driving Range and the Kilgore College Demonstration Farm in Overton.
"This wasn't something that was mandated by any agency, but something that the college and the board of trustees felt was a good idea to ensure that any future asbestos issues could be dealt with using up-to-date documentation and in a timely manner."
Although some media outlets have reported the college "just began" an asbestos abatement plan, he said, the college has "thousands upon thousands" of documents outlining asbestos abatements and building renovations over the last 20 years.
"To insinuate that the college 'just began' a program to address asbestos is not true," he said.