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Illinois man sentenced for improper asbestos removal

Last week, we wrote about a man that had been charged with more than 30 violations of asbestos and environmental laws after allegedly failing to abide by state and federal regulations dictating how dangerous asbestos fibers must be removed. Now, we get a look at the other end of that criminal process with the news that an Illinois man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for failing to properly remove asbestos from a building.

According to court documents, the man's firm was hired in August 2009 to remove insulation that contained asbestos from the pipes of a five-story building in Illinois. The man agreed to take on the asbestos removal project for significantly less than any other contractor, apparently ignoring the fact that neither he nor anyone in his company was trained to deal with the dangerous fibers.

The man reportedly hired another person to recruit workers for the project and oversee their progress. It is not known whether that second man was sufficiently trained in asbestos removal.

Court documents state that the man's workers stripped dry asbestos insulation from the pipes, placed it in more than 100 unlabeled plastic bags and dumped the bags in an open field. Not only did this place the workers at a huge risk of asbestos exposure, but it also caused the soil to become contaminated, creating a potential risk of harm for nearby residents.

The man was charged with five felony violations of the federal Clean Air Act, of which he was convicted in September 2011. He has now been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay nearly $50,000 in restitution to the Environmental Protection Agency to cover the costs of cleaning up the improperly disposed asbestos.

It is also possible that the workers may file civil personal injury lawsuits against the man for placing them in danger of mesothelioma or other ailments. However, because of the long latency period of the disease, they may not learn whether they were negatively affected for several decades.

Source: Home Channel News, "Illinois contractor gets 10-year sentence for asbestos violation," Brae Canlen, July 31, 2012

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