A jury in Bay City, Michigan found a business owner guilty on four counts of violation of the federal Clean Air Act for illegal asbestos removal at a renovation project. The project, that was undertaken from August 2010 through September 2011, has resulted in another man being sentenced to prison.
According to a Dec. 2 article in MLive, the man is the owner of Lasting Impressions contracting company that was hired to renovate an old church and convert it into a school building. However, the work went on without regard for the asbestos that was throughout the building that was built in 1886.
“Contractors who fail to comply with clean air laws can expect to face criminal prosecution as a consequence,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. “Releasing asbestos poisons the air and harms human health.”
The man, who is scheduled to be sentenced in March, faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. A co-defendant in the case was acquitted of the same charges.
In February, a former employee of the company pleaded guilty to perjury, and was later sentenced to 21 months in prison. He initially denied that anyone in charge asked him to remove asbestos, but later said his supervisor had him remove about 200 feet of asbestos.
The four counts against the Lasting Impressions owner, according to MLive, are: “fail(ed) to remove asbestos before beginning to demolish and renovate the building, fail(ed) to adequately wet and keep wet asbestos until proper disposal, fail(ed) to ensure that a person trained in the proper procedures for handling asbestos was on-site when asbestos was disturbed, and fail(ed) to ensure that asbestos-containing waste was disposed of properly.”
The Clean Air Act was established in 1970 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect people with an “adequate margin of safety.” Guidelines for keeping the public and workers safe from asbestos and other environmental hazards are strict. Punishment for violation of these laws is just as strict.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, “Asbestos is a human carcinogen with no safe level of exposure.” As a result, all of the workers and others exposed to asbestos during this project are at a life-long risk of developing mesothelioma. The disease has an extended latency period and can strike up to 60 years after exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a serious, incurable cancer.