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Defendant Pleaded Guilty in Asbestos Case

While we largely think of asbestos and mesothelioma cases as being civil matters these days, there are various times where state and federal prosecutors will also file criminal charges for alleged violations of environmental regulations and labor laws that breach workers’ rights and safety.

gavel21According to recent news article from WAND 17 News, a man has just pleaded guilty to numerous federal charges that stemmed from allegations of illegal asbestos removal from an old factory in Springfield.When a person owns a building and plans to do renovations or demolition work that will cause asbestos to be disturbed, all work must be done properly, and there are multiple state and federal environmental laws as well as labor laws that apply to this situation.  As our Boston asbestos injury attorneys can explain, the first thing that must be done is to have a certified inspector who is bonded and insured come to the property and perform an asbestos inspection.  It doesn’t matter if the property owner is sure there is asbestos, as this step cannot be skipped.

The reason for this is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) wants to makes sure tests are being done, and it is not merely left up to a judgment call.   As for the method of inspection, the inspector will carefully collect samples, and he or she will send those samples to a materials testing laboratory for confirmation.  The lab will use powerful microscopes to confirm the presence of deadly asbestos fibers.  The lab will also type the material, so the asbestos can be classified.

In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to the charge that he knowingly failed to adequately remove material that contained asbestos. This is a federal requirement, and violation of this federal statute is a criminal offense. As for the specific allegations, prosecutors specifically stated defendant hired a person who was not trained or certified in asbestos abatement to remove the dry asbestos pipe insulation prior demolition work. This clearly did not go well since there were allegedly over a 1,000 feet of asbestos material left in the debris that was still on site.

As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys can explain, when a worker is asked to remove construction debris and doesn’t know it contains asbestos, that leads to serious heath hazards to the worker, his or her family, and the community at large.  A worker who is performing asbestos abatement work, must be trained and certified and be provided with proper safety equipment, including a NIOSH-approved respirator or ventilator. The worker must remove all equipment and make sure there are no asbestos fibers on his or her clothing that will be taken home where they can harm his or her family.  These are called take-home asbestos cases.

Additionally, the site must be kept wet to keep dust from escaping. There must also be approved plastic sheeting barriers erected and vacuums with HEPA filters to prevent dust from reaching the outside air, where members of the community can become sick.  It must then be transported in approved plastic containers, while wet, to an approved asbestos collection facility.

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

Additional Resources:

Man pleads guilty in Pillsbury Mills asbestos case, April 11, 2017, WAND 17 News

More Blog Entries:
School Asbestos Removal Process in Lawrence Worries Teachers, Feb. 8, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog