A homeowner hired a heating contractor to replace the boiler in a rental property he owned. During the project, neither of the men followed proper procedure for removal of asbestos – a dangerous material. Additionally, neither of the men notified the Department of Environmental Protection when the asbestos was being removed.
When working with dangerous materials such as asbestos, servicers and retailers could be charged under product liability laws if specific precautions are not taken. The state has guidelines for removing asbestos, and the owner of the rental property and the serviceman allegedly did not follow the guidelines outlined by the state’s Clean Air Act.
Further, the Department of Labor Standards requires that only licensed contractors are permitted to remove asbestos. A licensed contractor must tell the department when he will be removing the asbestos and how he will remove it. He or she must also let the department know where the dangerous material will be stored or disposed of.
In this case, the serviceman did not seal off the basement where he was working on replacing the boiler in the home. Because of this, the children and adults could have been exposed to and ingested the toxic materials.
Both men were charged with, and indicted, on two counts of violating the Clean Air Act and for not filing a notice of asbestos removal with the DEP. They were also charged with failing to prevent asbestos emissions. The serviceman allegedly went back to the apartment, after being notified of the charges against him, and threatened one of the tenants. He allegedly told the tenant not to testify against him at trial. According to the Attorney General’s Office, he also faces charges of witness intimidation.
Since the incident, the home has been decontaminated. A DEP spokesperson stated he believed the family, who had several children, was still living in the home.
It is up to manufacturers and property owners to warn people if there is a dangerous product that they may be exposed to. By not fully informing the proper people of the presence of asbestos, they put other people’s lives in danger. Having close contact with, or ingesting, asbestos can cause serious damage and people should be warned if it is present in their home.
Source: Milford Daily News, “Two men indicted in Midway asbestos removal case,” Whitney Clearman, Jan. 24, 2012