In a case with implications for North Carolina and every other state where older buildings are being renovated or demolished, a contractor has pleaded guilty to willfully lying about whether his employees violated the Clean Air Act.
Many older buildings were built using a variety of asbestos-containing products, and remodeling or demolition of those buildings can cause the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers has been proved to causes asbestosis and mesothelioma, a highly lethal form of lung cancer. Contractors who work on such buildings are therefore required to be knowledgeable about the hazards of asbestos product exposure and take appropriate precautions in handling any materials that might contain asbestos.
In this case, the owner of a contracting firm working on a housing project admitted that he knew that his workers merely dumped asbestos-containing products into holes in the floors of the project without making any effort to contain the release of asbestos fibers. This practice violates the federal Clean Air Act, which imposes strict limitations on the handling of asbestos-containing products and requires the use of firms with specific expertise in asbestos handling and removal. The contractor’s guilty plea may ameliorate a sentence that could be as long as 30 months. The plea deal was made in the context of a wide-ranging investigation.
Asbestos is one of the most dangerous materials found in the everyday environment. People that believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibers in their workplace or from proximity to buildings where asbestos has been found should investigate their legal options to see what remedies they have.
Source: mesothelioma.com, “Contractor Acknowledges Asbestos Cover-Up As Part of Plea Deal,” Rick Kornak, May 2, 2014