Once dubbed the miracle mineral, asbestos is now known to be so dangerous that its deliberate mishandling can lead to significant jail time. Case in point: the recent six-month jail sentence handed down to a company owner who demolished an abandoned factory in a residential area although he knew the building contained tons of deadly asbestos.
As reported by the Belfast Telegraph, John Lewis demolished a building on the site of the former Broadway Industrial Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, despite a survey showing that it contained asbestos. According to the prosecuting attorney, the site contained 1,300 square meters of asbestos insulating board and cement totaling 250 tons.
Although the officials from the Health and Safety Executive intervened to stop the demolition, the damage may have already been done. When released into the air from demolition, microscopic asbestos fibers can be inhaled, leading to an increased risk of several cancers, including mesothelioma, which is aggressive and incurable.
“The dangers of asbestos are obvious and well recognized,” said the presiding judge in the case, who also said that the Health and Safety Executive showed there was an “imminent risk to health” because of the improper handling of the asbestos. An investigator claimed that Lewis employees were seen removing asbestos out of the debris without proper safety gear.
The court was told that the proper disposal of the asbestos-containing debris cost the Belfast City Council over $440,000. Lewis pled guilty to five offences relating to the management of asbestos under the Health and Safety at Work Act in 2011.
Despite the health risks of his negligent actions, Lewis was allowed to walk free from the courtroom last week after the judge suspended his six-month sentence for two years, according to the Telegraph.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have developed mesothelioma as a result, contact Sokolove Law today for a free case consultation to see if a mesothelioma lawyer can help you.