Buffalo Asbestos Abatement Project Results in Guilty Pleas to Clean Air Act Violations

Posted on June 20, 2017

The owners of two companies that took part in an asbestos abatement project at the Roosevelt Park Shelter in Buffalo pleaded guilty last month to violations of the Clean Air Act. In a case dating back to 2009, the two men were charged with making false statements after the asbestos debris was removed from the site and the men falsified asbestos waste manifests.

During the two-month project, from Dec. 2009 through January 2010, asbestos debris was removed and transported to a waste container at one of the men’s company on Grand Island. However, there was no recording of the asbestos in paperwork required through the Clean Air Act until March 11, 2010. Also, on April 28, 2011, an inspection of the site found asbestos was improperly left behind.

According to a May 15 press release from the Western District of New York Office of the Dept. of Justice, all owners or operators of an asbestos abatement project regulated under the Clean Air Act, must maintain a waste shipment manifest to include the name of the owner/operator; the name of the generator; and the date the asbestos was transported. The information is used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during investigations.

The charges brought against the men and their companies included making a false statement under the Clean Air Act, and accessory after the fact to a false statement under the Clean Air Act. The penalties range from two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 to five years’ probation and a $500,000 fine. The sentencing for the men is scheduled for August 28, 2017.

Asbestos is no longer used in the construction of buildings in the U.S., however, it can be found in construction materials throughout buildings built prior to the mid-1980s. Asbestos-containing products can be found in roofing materials, floor tiles, caulk, joint compound, ceiling tiles and insulation.

The management of asbestos, a known carcinogen, is highly regulated, and cleanup efforts for the toxin require trained experts who understand the requirements of the Clean Air Act and specialize in the removal of the hazardous substance.

The Clean Air Act was established in 1970 by the EPA 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. And, punishment for violation of these laws is just as strict.

Exposure to asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive, incurable cancer that leaves patients with few treatment options and a prognosis of less than one year after diagnosis. Nearly 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

The EPA reports that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.