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Fines issued, criminal charges filed for illegal asbestos removal

For much of the last century, asbestos was heavily used in many fields with little regard for the health of those who came in contact with it. Today, however, the federal government, as well as most state and local governments, are taking decisive and firm action against individuals and employers that knowingly and recklessly subject their workers to asbestos exposure and the myriad of health issues that accompany it.

In one example of this, an owner of a recycling company is facing federal criminal charges and hefty fines for his company's improper and negligent disposal of asbestos during the demolition of a former mill building. Hopefully, others who would take similar harmful actions hear of this situation and learn a lesson from it.

According to court documents, the demolition of the mill was halted in July 2011 when employees told federal officials that insulation containing asbestos was being improperly removed from pipes, causing them to work in unsafe conditions. When officials investigated, they found that no one had inspected the mill for presence of asbestos before the demolition process began.

In fact, an asbestos removal expert who was brought on to oversee the subsequent removal said that the demolition was the worst asbestos site he had seen in Maine in three decades.

Now, the recycling company has been ordered to pay a $7,500 fine, and its owner is facing jail time after pleading guilty to charges of misusing federal money. Thankfully, however, the asbestos removal was safely completed earlier this year.

Source: The Morning Sentinel, "State fines Wilton Recycling $7,500 for Forster Mill asbestos," Matt Hongoltz-Hetling," Nov. 27, 2012

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