State orders new inspections, mandatory maintenance on buses after antifreeze leak

State orders new inspections, mandatory maintenance on buses after antifreeze leak

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Transportation officials at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction ordered all school districts operating rear engine buses to immediately shut off the valves to hoses carrying antifreeze through the bus.

The order comes after five children from Union County were injured when hot antifreeze leaked on their school bus on Monday.

On Your Side Investigates first told you about a September 2013 memo from NCDPI that warned local school districts of the potential of a safety leak and recommended districts replace a plastic valve connector that could crack under pressure.

Union County Public Schools officials have said they did not make the suggested replacement. No explanation has been offered as to why.

Friday, NCDPI officials re-sent their September 2013 memo to local school districts that operate rear engine buses along with a new order for districts to immediately shut off the valves to the hoses that carry antifreeze through the buses until a new inspection could be conducted.

The email from state transportation officials says documentation of the new inspections must be submitted by August 1, 2015.

The email also reinforces the recommendation made to change out a plastic hose connector that was made in the September 2013 memo. Friday's email said school districts must replace the plastic connector with a metal one.

NCDPI records show there are 35 school districts in North Carolina that operate Thomas MVP rear engine buses.

Records show Union County Public Schools operate 25 of the buses, Gaston County Public Schools operate 12, Lincoln County Public Schools operate seven and Iredell County Public Schools has one.

Some districts across the state had already began re-inspecting their buses before Friday's directive.

Transportation officials in Iredell and Wilkes Counties told On Your Side Investigates that they conducted new inspections of the heater hoses on their rear engine buses after Monday's incident in Union County.

"For the safety of Union County Public Schools students, the transportation department inspected all of its rear-engine buses and shut off the heater valves on the evening of May 11," Union County officials told WBTV Friday afternoon after the state's email, "UCPS has and will continue to follow directives from DPI related to this matter."

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