Asbestos found buried behind abandoned Seneca school

SENECA, S.C. (WSPA) – Cleanup is underway in Seneca after asbestos was uncovered behind an abandoned school in the middle of a neighborhood.

In September, DHEC inspectors say they were alerted by an anonymous tip that asbestos was buried behind old Kellett Elementary school in Seneca. 

They met with city leaders to check it out. Both the city and DHEC tested the material and determined it was asbestos tile from old construction material that was deep in the dirt.seneca-asbestos-school-pic

Allan Yarid, a former city council member, grew up and still lives right next door to the school. After it shut down years ago, he and several other neighbors have become invested in what happens to the building next.

“We still use this ball field up here for a soccer field,” Yarid said. “This field is one of the little league’s first ball fields in the state. They used to play football out here for practice.”

Yarid says the neighborhood brought their suspicions about the asbestos to the city council before. The site has been the responsibility of the city for years. That’s why he believes city officials should be held responsible for the asbestos.

“The whole thing stinks from the very beginning,” Yarid explained. “Something has been dug 60 feet long you know, you got to have heart equipment to dig something that deep.”

He and other neighbors say they are concerned the asbestos could be damaging to their health. They believe there is much more asbestos to be discovered.

“It could get into the air and get into the water system, you know, we like to live in a clean environment. That’s what the neighborhood wants,” Allen continued. “Why would you cover it up? If you didn’t think it was asbestos why wouldn’t you take it and dispose of the material properly?”

However, DHEC says inspectors haven’t been able to determine who dumped the asbestos in the lot. They tell 7 News that the city is working with them to get the material removed.

Seneca Director of Utilities Bob Faires says they believe someone dug a hole on the property and “sprinkled pieces of tile in the hole”.

Faires says they are being proactive and are taking the situation seriously. They are expecting quotes this week from asbestos removal contractors to clean up the site.  But Faires says the asbestos is not a threat to people living in neighboring homes.

DHEC says they have not given the city a deadline to have the site cleaned up, but they have advised them to do it quickly.

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