Did New Jersey Inmates Work with Asbestos?

by Sokolove Law

Last December, the city of Paterson, N.J. had to stop work on a renovation project after potentially dangerous asbestos was detected on the site.

In the fall of 2012, a team that included city public works employees and a group of county inmates began working on a municipal building in Paterson, according to this article in the PatersonPress.com. The inmates were participants in a community service program for nonviolent offenders called the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP).

The Paterson public works director says that 15 tests of the tiles turned up low levels of a type of asbestos that doesn’t disintegrate easily when disturbed. “[The inmates] did not conduct any work that would have resulted in the release of asbestos fibers,’’ he claims.

But Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik was “surprised, disappointed and upset” when he learned of the potential exposure, according to his spokesman. “Under no circumstances would we have potentially exposed or would we have allowed any SLAP inmates to be assigned work around any potentially hazardous material,” says Berdnik’s spokesman. The incident is currently under investigation by the sheriff’s office, and three departments of state government.

The inmates were given protective gloves and masks to wear while they worked on the offices, according to the Paterson public works chief. He was unsure if any of the inmates wore the protective suits available to workers at the jobsite.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, according to the National Cancer Institute. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to numerous illnesses, including mesothelioma, a rare but incurable cancer. Latency periods can be as long as 40 years between exposure to asbestos and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms.

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible for a mesothelioma lawsuit. Call Sokolove Law today for a free legal consultation.