Jail Time for Businessman Accused of Asbestos Violations

by Sokolove Law

An Illinois businessman was fined $3,000 and sentenced to five months in prison and three months of house arrest last week for improperly removing asbestos from a former industrial site in violation of the Clean Air Act.

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Franklin “Al” Bieri, 54, bought the abandoned seven-acre site of the former Emerson Electric Manufacturing Co. and planned to demolish building that contained asbestos. In April 2010 he hired workers untrained in removing asbestos-containing materials to perform the demolition. According to federal prosecutors, the workers failed to take measures to prevent the deadly asbestos fibers from becoming airborne, and they did not properly label the waste to ensure safe disposal.

Bieri also neglected to notify the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency about the work, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Bieri’s negligent actions put not only the workers at risk, but the public as well. When asbestos is disturbed, microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air where they are easily inhaled. Fibers can then become embedded in the lungs and other internal organs where they can cause scarring, which can lead to serious health problems such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton said: “This well-heeled businessman tried to save a few bucks by sending in untrained and improperly protected people, then had them dispose of this dangerous material improperly, exposing unsuspecting landfill workers. This conduct is breathtaking, literally.”

U.S. District Judge David Herndon called Bieri’s action “a profoundly serious crime,” according to the Post-Dispatch.

Introduced in 1970, the Clean Air Act contains stringent guidelines to reduce the health risks of asbestos exposure. Under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act, The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos (NESHAP) governs the safe handling of asbestos-containing materials when a building is being demolished or renovated.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, contact Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation and to learn if a mesothelioma lawyer can help you.

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