For leaving asbestos debris littered at the demolition site of an old hospital in New Jersey, a former recycling company project organizer will serve three years in prison. His co-defendant, the owner of the company, was sentenced last year to one year in jail and three years’ probation.
The two men violated the state’s Asbestos Control and Licensing Act and disregarded the safety of the workers they brought in to complete the project, including laborers from the local prison.
John Hoffman, the state’s attorney general, reported the recycling company had been given a contract to recycle certain materials from the soon-to-be-demolished site. The men had expected a big payday for the copper and steel at the site. They didn’t want the cost of proper asbestos removal to get in their way.
They knew the risk because an engineering report was given to them prior to the contract’s signing, which indicated the extensive amount of asbestos in the 1935 structure and the necessary steps to initiate proper removal.
Rather than pay to properly handle the situation with trained workers and ample protective gear, they simply signed up temporary laborers and those from the local prisons. They paid them poorly, if at all, and gave them no protective gear to shield them from the potentially devastating health consequences of asbestos exposure. The workers were given paper masks, which did nothing to filter out the harmful fibers, although they did make it difficult to breathe, so few men wore them past the first day.
The company did initially hire a licensed contractor to remove the asbestos. It was estimated, however, that their services for proper removal at the site would cost $220,000. That licensed firm only had crews at the site for one day, after the firm received just a few thousand dollars of the 10 percent down payment.
State investigators were later tipped off to potentially unsafe conditions at the site and organized a raid in March 2011. They discovered many of the workers were unlicensed or prisoners. The company was improperly burying the asbestos in the ground to cover its tracks. They also dumped bags of the material on one boiler room floor. Asbestos debris was seen everywhere throughout the site.
The Department of Environmental Protection later took over and ensured the site was properly cleaned by licensed professionals.
Our Florida asbestos attorneys understand proper clean-up can be costly.
Take as an example the recent airport construction work going on near U.S. Highway 1 and Griffin Road in Dania Beach. The spot was a staging area for a new terminal at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Asbestos contained in old floor tiles had been buried at the site, and local residents began to complain about the digging. Although officials said the tiles didn’t pose a risk, they paid to have them removed out of an abundance of caution. The cost? $4.3 million to remove nearly 78,000 cubic yards of dirt and haul it to a nearby landfill.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.
Asbestos project brings 3-year term, June 12, 2015, By Jim Walsh, Courier-Post
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