Contractor Under Fire for Previous Mishaps Charged Over Asbestos Removal

New Paltz, N.Y. – Asbestos abatement violations were discovered in a project at the State University of New York campus in New Paltz, officials said, leading to charges against a contractor from Staten Island. Asbestos, which was used in drywall, ceiling tiles, and other building materials in three dorms, can possibly cause the cancer mesothelioma if removed improperly. Salvatore DePaola, 55, was indicted on manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges after a fire in 2007 at the former Deutsche Bank in Manhattan. Two firefighters died in a blaze that occurred after DePaola and two other men cut a 42 foot section of standpipe out of the building to speed up asbestos removal. The standpipe is what delivers water to firefighters throughout a building in the event of a fire. At New Paltz, DePaola, who was working for Milestone Environmental Corp., based in Morganville, N.J., is accused of improperly removing and disposing of asbestos from Bouton, College, and Shango halls. The University says no students or staff were at risk, and another company finished the abatement. Special Agent Patrick Nevers, of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited Milestone for initial violations, claiming that one of the workers did not hold a current state asbestos license, that asbestos was being dry-stripped instead of dampened before removal, which can lead to friable asbestos becoming airborne, and that workers had spread asbestos around the work area, including on themselves. Mesothelioma is an asbestos cancer almost exclusively linked to exposure to asbestos. When disturbed or removed improperly, as it was at the University, microscopic asbestos fibers can be swallowed or inhaled. The fibers become lodged in the mesothelium, causing tissue scarring, difficulty breathing, and further possible respiratory conditions, including the cancer mesothelioma, which has no cure. Symptoms of the deadly disease take years or even decades to appear, leaving victims with few options by the time it’s discovered.