Denver Apartment Owner Charged with Asbestos Crimes

Posted on November 29, 2016

In March 2014, we reported of asbestos contamination in the Overlook at Mile High Apartments in Denver. Now, two years later, the company that owns the Overlook apartments, along with an executive of the company, have been charged with allegedly endangering the lives of Denver residents by releasing asbestos into the ambient air.

The charges stem from a construction project in 2014 when renovation was being conducted at the apartment buildings. During the project, workers were sanding floors at the complex when asbestos was uncovered and released into the air, according to a Nov. 17 article in The Denver Post. At the time, nearly 70 residents were forced to abandon their apartments.

According to the court documents, the executive “negligently released asbestos into the ambient air and at the time thereby negligently placed other persons in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury…and aided, abetted, commanded, procured and willfully caused the same.”  The criminal charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver in November leaves the executive with the potential of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The company could be fined $500,000 or more, reports the Denver Post.

Additional concern was raised as it was uncovered that during January 2014 when asbestos was released into the air, the Denver Broncos hosted two football games at the Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. The stadium is walking distance away from the apartments. Each football game can draw over 75,000 spectators who could potentially be at risk of health issues from the asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a carcinogen that is responsible for lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs), and other chronic respiratory illnesses.

In 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established The Clean Air Act to combat a variety of air pollution problems, and to tackle emerging pollution threats. Included within the act are specific guidelines for ensuring workers are protected from asbestos dangers while on the job and for protecting the general population. According to the EPA, “dramatic reductions in air pollution, preventing hundreds of thousands of cases of serious health effects each year” have been realized with strict enforcement of the provisions of the Act.

The lawyer representing the company claims they have spent nearly $1 million re-mediating the asbestos. The Denver Post reports that money also went towards settlements for apartment owners and training employees about the threat of asbestos contamination.

Mesothelioma is a serious, incurable cancer diagnosed in nearly 3,000 Americans each year.