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EPA sues contractor over improper asbestos removal

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently filed a lawsuit against a contractor over claims that the company failed to remove toxic asbestos materials before demolishing a former gunpowder plant in New Jersey. According to the lawsuit, the company's failure to act is in violation of the Clean Air Act and the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

In the federal asbestos lawsuit, the EPA claims that Lovett Contracting Inc. failed to remove approximately 5,000 feet of piping and 3,000 feet of pipe insulation before starting demolition on a former DuPont Repauno plant. The plant had formerly been used to produce gunpowder and similar products, but has gone unused for several decades prior to the demolition.

The EPA cites an internal report in which it reportedly found that the amount of asbestos inside the former DuPont plan exceeded the thresholds allowed by federal, state and local regulations. The agency will reportedly issue a fine of $32,000 per day, although it is not yet clear how many days the company has been in violation of the laws.

According to EPA spokesperson Elias Rodriguez, the company's failure to remove the harmful asbestos fibers may very well have placed town residents at risk of contracting mesothelioma or similar deadly diseases. "Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious health risks," he said, adding that the company could have easily taken safety measures to prevent exposure. "Using water and equipment such as glove bags and other containment measures prevents the release of asbestos fibers and minimizes the chance of exposure."

Source: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, "EPA Says Asbestos Handled Improperly at Old DuPont Site," Pat Guth, Jan. 14, 2012

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