Officials Knew of Asbestos at Ohio Prison

A recently obtained state prison report suggests a Chillicothe, Ohio prison was filled with dangerous asbestos despite an official’s claims otherwise.

According to an article in the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, a May 2007 survey recently acquired by The Columbus Dispatch newspaper shows that prison officials voiced concerns about the presence of asbestos in floor tiles and pipe insulation at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution (CCI) but nothing was done to address the situation.

The article notes that a recently-filed federal lawsuit accuses the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction of “lying about efforts to remove the asbestos” and says officials showed “a deliberate indifference to a known health risk at the prison.”

The suit was filed on behalf of 33 inmates and four former inmates, who say they found powdered asbestos on the floors on the prison. The inmates suggest they were exposed to the material on a regular basis which, in its powdered state, presents a serious health risk.

Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Lyons said the state has spent $375,920 since 2005 to remove or contain the asbestos at the prison and maintains that there are no asbestos hazards in the dormitory or common areas at this time. The only known asbestos, she states, is in the tunnels under the complex.

Prisoners still disagree with the findings, even though a January 2007 inspection by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee stated that the last remnants of asbestos in a CCI housing unit was removed two years ago.

“At the time, all above ground asbestos in this area was encapsulated,” says Warden Robin Knab.

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