A construction manager who oversaw the two-year renovation of a building in Des Moines, Iowa has pled guilty to knowingly violating the Clean Air Act by not properly removing, or disposing of, products containing deadly asbestos fibers.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 51-year-old Russell Coco pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and for violating the act’s work practice standards related to asbestos removal.
Between 2006 and 2008, Coco served as the construction manager for the renovation of several floors of the Equitable Building that were being turned into luxury condominiums or commercial space. During the project, numerous objects in the building were found that contained some type of asbestos, including 260 feet of steam pipes that used asbestos containing insulation and 160 square feet of floor tiles.
However, the removal of these products was performed, as per order of Coco and the building’s owner Bob Knapp, by workers who were not properly accredited to perform asbestos abatement work. Additionally, the products were not properly disposed of and left in an uncovered dumpster.
According to the DOJ, The Clean Air Act requires asbestos abatement projects in public buildings to follow a number of “federally established work practice standards,” including the requirement to alert the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before any asbestos removal takes place. Asbestos products must also be adequately wetted during removal, and disposed of only at an “EPA-approved disposal site.”
Like Coco, Knapp has an indictment pending against him that also charges him with conspiring and violating the Clean Air Act. He is scheduled for trial later this month.
For those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer that can be linked to some type of asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about your rights, and to see if pursuing a mesothelioma settlement is in your best interest.