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People in North Carolina and nationwide were shocked to learn how two men worked together to dump over 60 million pounds of debris from demolitions on open farmland bordering on a river. The truly outrageous thing was that much of the debris contained asbestos, the toxic substance that can lead to various illnesses including many respiratory ailments and mesothelioma that can result in disability and death. The two men were put on trial for criminal offenses and could also be subject to lawsuits for premises liability by anyone damaged by the presence of the asbestos.
The massive debris dump took place on a 28-acre farm owned by one of the men. The farm has wetlands which should be protected from environmental contamination. The debris came from construction demolitions which the other man’s waste management company had been paid to process trash from and properly dispose of. He put the debris through a shredding machine to convert it largely to dust, but made no effort to remove the dangerous asbestos. As a result, the fine powder containing the toxin can be blown everywhere.
A jury quickly found the two guilty of criminal violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Prosecutors further asserted that the two men fraudulently lied to federal authorities in the course of an investigation, seeking to cover up their outrageous and callous conduct, which may yet have tragic health consequences for many people.
Prosecutors further stated that the men forged a needed state environmental permit, putting the forged signature of a state official on the bogus document, and obstructed the investigation by hiding and throwing away requested documents which a grand jury demanded they produce in response to a subpoena.
Source: NBCNews.com, “Asbestos, 60 million pounds of debris dumped on farm leads to pollution convictions,” Miguel Llanos, Oct. 18, 2012
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