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Business Fined $70K for Asbestos Violation

Once again, a company is in trouble for violating environmental laws designed to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure. gavel3.jpg

While our Boston mesothelioma lawyers focus primarily on cases in which individuals have already been diagnosed with asbestos-borne cancers, we believe it’s important to highlight the fact that abuses are still ongoing.

We have heard arguments from some who say that the payouts in mesothelioma cases are too high or that there are far too many cases in general. However, situations like this illustrate why we will likely be seeing mesothelioma litigation cases filed for years to come. It has to do with companies failing to take proper – and lawful – precautions to protect workers, consumers and the public.

In this case, as reported by The Cordova Times in Alaska, a copper company was charged and eventually convicted with violation of federal environmental laws – specifically, the Clean Air Act – for its release of friable asbestos into the air at a property in the downtown area of the capitol, Anchorage.

The chief district court judge overseeing the case sentenced the company to three years of probation and payment of a $70,000 fine. Additionally, the company was ordered to hire an environmental consultant full-time to help make sure that no further violations take place.

According to the newspaper, the copper company owns and manages several buildings downtown – a cluster of which it purchased in 2009. At the time, the company was aware of the fact that these properties contained asbestos throughout – in the floors, ceilings and walls. Further, the company knew that certain precautions were required for handling and disposal would be required in order for them to be demolished or renovated.

Despite having this knowledge, the company moved forward with demolition of one building and renovation of another. They took no steps to hire a specialized asbestos abatement company, and perhaps even worse, the employees asked to do the work had no idea that there was asbestos in the building or that they were being exposed to a deadly hazard. These workers, who had zero training in removing asbestos and were not given personal protective gear, were placed in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

The truly sad part is those workers will likely not know for many more years whether their exposure to the airborne asbestos has made them sick, as mesothelioma and asbestosis take years to manifest.

Similar cases in Massachusetts abound. As we recently reported in our Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers’ Blog, last month a Boston lobster company was fined $100,000 for failure to properly handle asbestos during numerous projects.

The U.S. Clean Air Act, as defined in U.S. Code Tittle 42, Chapter 85, requires that companies take certain precautions when conducting renovation or demolition projects on structures containing asbestos, as well as with regard to disposal of the material.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in New England, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Company convicted of asbestos crime, Dec. 28, 2012, Staff Report, The Cordova Times
More Blog Entries:
Massachusetts Asbestos Violations Costly for Company, Dec. 15, 2012, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog