Failing to report asbestos in buildings slated for demolition puts workers and the public at an increased risk of asbestos exposure yet it’s a trend that seems to be the rise.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discussed the problem during a recent environmental law enforcement training workshop held in Ohio, according to The News-Messenger. The motivation for these crimes almost always is money, said Brad Ostendorf, an investigator for the EPA’s Criminal Investigative Division and one of the workshop speakers.
Ostendorf cited the case of a Michigan company that tore down a Toledo elevator factory after first reporting that no asbestos was present in the structure. However, the site inspector was skeptical since surveys of the building in 2004 and 2005 had turned up asbestos. The inspector went to the partially demolished structure and found what appeared to be asbestos.
An environmental crimes task force tested samples from the structure that confirmed the presence of asbestos, Ostendorf said. Ultimately, the owner of the company was charged with a felony clean air violation and later sentenced to 13 months in prison for the Toledo case and another in Michigan, according to The News-Messenger.
Widely used in building materials for much of the 20th century, asbestos was dubbed the miracle mineral for its versatility, durability, and high insulation and fireproofing qualities. Indeed, most structures built before the mid-1970s probably contain asbestos in some form. Unfortunately, inhaling asbestos fibers can lead to a number of serious health problems, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, the deadly and swift-moving cancer.
Building demolitions are especially problematic if there is any asbestos present, which is precisely why the EPA and other agencies have strict guidelines around the reporting and removal of such materials ahead of demolition. But abating asbestos is a costly process so some unscrupulous companies choose to put profits ahead of people.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos due to corporate negligence and developed an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Sokolove Law for a free case evaluation today and to find out whether a mesothelioma attorney can help you.