The federal government’s track record on protecting the health and welfare of Americans has been dismal the past six years. Individual states, particularly in New England, the Mountain West and the Pacific Northwest, have done a much better job, particularly when it comes to dealing with asbestos issues. Colorado, Montana and Washington are examples of states with stringent regulations regarding asbestos abatement; individuals and business entities that engage in asbestos abatement work on a professional basis must be certified, licensed, and adhere to strict regulations and safety practices.
New Hampshire is another state that takes asbestos dangers seriously, and has laws that provide for strong penalties in cases of violations. Recently, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) received a report that a Dover company called Kane Management Group LLC hired unlicensed workers for an asbestos abatement project in one of its buildings.
New Hampshire State Attorney Kelly Avotte filed suit in the Strafford County Superior Court, where $90,000 in civil fines were assessed against Kane Management. $10,000 of the revenue will be used to fund environmental education projects at the Seacoast Science Center, located in Rye. Avotte was quoted in the media as saying that “…[the] case demonstrates the importance of complying with state laws that protect workers, the public and the environment from potential asbestos risks,” adding that Kane Management had been quite cooperative in reaching the $90K settlement. Michael Willis, the state DES Assistant Commissioner, reaffirmed that property owners and contractors “…should conduct an asbestos survey before starting any renovation or demolition work. If asbestos is present, it should be removed by trained and licensed abatement contractors,” emphasizing that such regulations are in place for the safety and protection of workers and the public at large. The lesson here is that, while compliance with safety and licensing requirements can cost money, it is far less expensive than ignoring or deliberately violating such laws and regulations, and in any event, a bargain compared to the financial, social and human costs of asbestos disease.