News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 4, 2012

South Vigo auditorium closed after piece of ceiling falls, tests positive for asbestos

Building will be closed during fall break for ceiling removal

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Terre Haute South Vigo High School auditorium has been closed for about 1 1/2 weeks and will remain closed until after asbestos-containing acoustical ceiling is removed over fall break, Superintendent Dan Tanoos confirmed today.

Late last month, a small piece of the original acoustical ceiling in the auditorium fell in the seating area and the auditorium was closed off. The piece that fell was sent away for testing and it did contain asbestos.

Parents were contacted last week by automated telephone message and Principal Chris Mauk notified leaders of booster clubs and parent groups.

Tanoos had air quality tested at South, North Vigo and West Vigo high schools; testing showed no asbestos in the air. “At no time has there been any risk with anyone’s health,” Tanoos said today.

Over fall break, which is Oct. 12-15, Terre Haute South will be closed and a company will remove the auditorium acoustical ceiling; it will not immediately be replaced.

The South Vigo football game scheduled for Oct. 12, which is senior night, will remain at South, but no one will be allowed inside the high school building, Tanoos said. “I don’t want anyone to feel any possible exposure could take place,” he said.

Because North Vigo was built at the same time and the two high school buildings are similar, the district anticipates removing the acoustical ceiling from that auditorium, as well. That work would likely be done next summer.

He anticipates the ceilings at both the high schools will be replaced at that time.

Because public school buildings are involved, the district must adhere to strict environmental regulations, Tanoos said.

While many older buildings, in general, may have been built with asbestos-containing materials, asbestos “doesn’t become an issue until it is exposed,” he said.

Tanoos estimated the cost to remove the auditorium ceiling at South will run about $80,000, to be funded out of the capital projects budget.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.