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Business owner placed on probation for asbestos violation

Any business or property owner that plans to demolish or renovate buildings must take steps to test for the presence of asbestos. This is required because asbestos must be properly handled and removed to prevent the toxic fiber from being released into the air or contaminating soil or water.

Many parties take this responsibility seriously. The understand that asbestos can cause catastrophic damage to people's health if they breathe in the airborne particles, so they hire someone to test materials. If asbestos is found, certified asbestos abatement companies can come in and properly remove and dispose of the contaminated materials. However, this does not always happen.

Recently, a man was put on probation and fined for wire fraud stemming from unlawful asbestos testing practices. According to reports, the man owned an environmental consulting firm that was hired to test materials that may have contained asbestos. Several companies enlisted the services of the firm, but the man was not actually providing those services.

Sources state that the man would receive materials from a demolition or renovation site. He was supposed to send these materials to a lab to have them tested, but on at least one occasion, he did not. Instead, he sent one demolition company a notice that the materials tested negative for asbestos and a bill for nearly $2,000. The problem was he never actually sent the materials in for testing.

Not only were the man's actions grounds for criminal charges of fraud, they could have also put the lives of the people on the jobsite in danger. Workers likely continued work on the project without the critical protective gear, leaving them vulnerable to breathing in potentially toxic materials.

Violations of asbestos regulations should be taken very seriously, not only by the government but also by the people who may have had their health compromised by exposure to asbestos. Victims who have gotten sick as a result of negligent or reckless asbestos practices should know that they do have the right to speak with an attorney to learn about their rights and consider the decision to take legal action.

Source: The Knoxville News-Sentinel, "Alcoa: Fake asbestos report nets businessman probation, fine," Jan. 27, 2015

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