Anderson-Wilcox Corp. and Cutting Edge Concepts II LLC have reached a settlement with the EPA and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut to pay $300,000 in fines for asbestos violations.
In 2002, the two companies both allegedly had a hand in the improper removal and disposal of asbestos in a building undergoing renovations. The owner of the building, Cutting Edge Concepts, hired Anderson-Wilcox to do the construction work in the building. The actual work was subcontracted by Anderson-Wilcox, but neither they nor Cutting Edge Concepts did any testing for asbestos even though it should have been present in the more-than-100-year-old building. Besides neglecting to test for asbestos, the removal and disposal of the asbestos found in the building did not adhere to the guidelines set out by the Clean Air Act, and potentially put the health of the workers at risk. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and once diagnosed with a cancer caused by asbestos such as mesothelioma, there is little chance of survival a year past diagnosis.
A tip alerted the authorities of these violations to the Clean Air Act and the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for asbestos (“Asbestos NESHAP”). These guidelines were put into place to protect workers and the public who might be exposed to asbestos dust. Failure to follow the proper procedures for asbestos removal and disposal can result in fines or a prison sentence depending upon the level of infraction. The subcontractors were told to throw the asbestos into dumpsters behind the building, used for regular waste. Large numbers of vinyl tiles from the upper floors of the building were also pulled up and thrown into the publicly accessible dumpsters. According to asbestos treatment guidelines, these materials should have been kept wet to reduce the amount of dust from them. Inhalation of asbestos dust is what causes the most damage to the body, but neither Cutting Edge Concepts nor Anderson-Wilcox followed this procedure. This netted the two companies the $300,000 fine.