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Shifting blame, avoiding responsibility for asbestos violations

There are many employers and property owners who will do whatever they can to cut their costs. They may work with substandard materials or fail to take appropriate action to improve working or living conditions to keep people safe. Often, these parties are making these decisions because of the short-term benefits they can get; however, the long-term consequences of these choices can be devastating.

Recently, the owner of a demolition firm in South Carolina made the reckless decision to dispose of construction materials without taking the proper precautions to protect people from the asbestos-containing debris. Since 2011, the company has reportedly been involved in improperly disposing of asbestos waste and the company owner is placing blame on property owners and faulty inspections. However, the owner's history of asbestos violations suggests that he simply refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

Since the demolition company owner was originally cited for improper disposal of asbestos in 2011, he has taken more steps to shift blame than to fix his mistakes. 

When he was cited for improperly disposing asbestos and construction debris after a hotel demolition, he blamed the building inspectors and property owners that hire inspectors. He stated that he can only go off of what they say in terms of identifying hazardous materials. He also says that he suspects the asbestos materials found in the debris piles next to the hotel came from different projects. He says that it's not his fault.

The company owner also has failed to clean up a vacant lot containing hazardous waste and asbestos, even though he has been given numerous opportunities to do so. In this case, he blamed an unidentified inspector who once told him he could keep the materials on site for a month. However, it has been much longer than a month, and the debris remains on site. This is in spite of huge fines, consent orders and extensions granted to the man.

Threats of fines or citations for workplace violations are not always enough to prompt negligent employers to do what is right. This can be especially true when it comes to asbestos removal. However, victims who have suffered damages as a result of this negligence can take their own legal action to hold that party accountable. Not only could there be enormous financial penalties, but it could also force a reckless company to legally acknowledge their behaviors.

Source: Myrtle Beach Online, "Illegal asbestos dumping creates headaches for environmental regulators," David Wren, April 26, 2014

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