A lot of news coverage on the dangers of asbestos deals with the improper disposal of asbestos by building owners. In order to legally remove asbestos, or renovate or demolish a structure that could likely contain asbestos, the owner must hire a certified professional asbestos removal company to perform an inspection. If asbestos is confirmed, the owner must submit a removal plan and obtain necessary permits before any work begins.
Often times, we see property owners having their workers simply dispose of the asbestos material as if it was any other waste or, in worst case scenarios, illegally dump the asbestos debris on public land. In these cases, workers are rarely provided with proper training or any protective equipment.
As our Boston mesothelioma lawyers can explain, asbestos dust contains fibers that can become embedded in the layer of organ tissue known as the mesothelium, where they can metastasize into mesothelioma cancer, and cause other respiratory illness. Once a person is exposed to asbestos, there is no way to detect or remove the microscopic fibers. In 20 to 50 years, the patient will first start to develop symptoms, but at that point, the disease is so far advanced there is generally short life expectancy.
Even when a property owner uses an approved asbestos removal contractor, the company must dispose of it somewhere. This usually means an approved hazardous waste disposal facility. According to a recent article from the Salt Lake Tribune, substantial penalties and fine have been levied against a Massachusetts-based hazardous waste plant for committing numerous serious violations.
Many of the violations include record keeping errors, but on at least 10 occasions last year, an incinerator that processes asbestos-containing vermiculite experienced a bypass, which means potentially toxic smoke containing asbestos dust and other carcinogenic compounds was released directly into the atmosphere.
The company agreed to a settlement in the amount of just over $71,000 in fines. The parent company located in Massachusetts has tried to downplay any serious safety violations and claims it uses a state-of-the-art incinerator that causes no significant risk to human health or the environment.
Environmentalists, on the other hand, have said that the 32 violations are “dizzying” and prove that the plant is nowhere near as safe as it should be. They have also noted that, in addition to the environment and the general public, employees who work at the plant have been exposed to significant hazards.
This particular plant, which is one of the largest in the nation, is licensed to burn hazardous material such as asbestos, infectious medical waste, pharmaceuticals, and caustic chemicals. It should be noted that, despite numerous health and safety violations, inspectors did not find any instances where the company tried to cover up any of these events.
In order to operate a hazardous waste disposal facility, the owners must obtain approval from various regulatory agencies and carry a substantial amount of liability insurance. Insurance for plants such as this can involve extremely high premiums, because if there was an incident that resulted a lawsuit, it is very difficult to defend negligence allegations when your business involves what the law refers to as an ultra-hazardous activity.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Hazardous waste plant awash in fines, October 9, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune
More Blog Entries:
EPA Investigates Improper Asbestos Removal at Old School Building Slated for Demolition, August 28, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog