The owner of a former Detroit landmark – the headquarters of the American Motors Corp. (AMC) – was recently indicted by a federal grand jury for improper removal of asbestos from the now-abandoned building.
Terry Williams was indicted Nov. 20 on charges that include violations of the federal Clean Air Act, according to The Detroit News. Williams was allegedly removing asbestos-coated pipes from the building without following federal safety regulations, potentially putting workers and nearby residents at risk of asbestos exposure.
Neighbors had complained to city officials for months about piles of debris accumulating at the site. They were worried that Williams’ intent was to strip the site of valuable metal, then abandon it. According to LiveLeak, the video-sharing website, Williams missed three years of tax payments on the property, accumulating a bill of $930,000 with the city.
Williams, a former scrap dealer, claimed to be developing a home for autistic children on the site but had offered no clear plan for redevelopment, according to the Detroit News.
Finding asbestos-containing materials is not unusual in buildings constructed before 1980, and the AMC headquarters was opened in 1927. If left undisturbed, asbestos in good condition is not considered likely to pose a health risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
But demolition work such as Williams was carrying out requires major precautions to protect workers and nearby residents. If asbestos fibers become airborne, they can be inhaled into the lungs and lead to devastating diseases such as mesothelioma, a fatal cancer. Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Sokolove Law today to learn more about your legal rights, which may include filing an asbestos lawsuit.