The removal and disposal of asbestos used as a building material is a dangerous, expensive and highly technical process. Contractors who work with the deadly substance usually need to hold a license from the state and require specialized equipment and safety precautions before undertaking any asbestos-related job. If proper procedures are not followed when working with asbestos, not only can there be significant health consequences for the workers, but the contractors also can be liable for significant financial penalties.
In Gibbstown, N.J., local contractor Lovett Contracting is facing legal action and potentially stiff fines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a result of the alleged improper clean-up and removal of asbestos-containing materials used in a former DuPont Chemical gunpowder plant. The lawsuit alleges Lovett was in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants regarding asbestos. The EPA is seeking $32,000 per day and per violation as well as court costs, which can ultimately amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars of violations for the contractor.
According to The Gloucester County Times, the EPA allegations listed six violations, including failure to take required precautions in demolishing or removing about 5,000 feet of piping and 3,000 feet of pipe insulation with dangerous amounts of asbestos that could be exposed to the air. Once airborne, the asbestos becomes a hazard to employees and the local community alike.
While the contractor had no comment to local media, EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez said, “Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious health risks.” He noted, “Using water and equipment such as glove bags and other containment measures prevents the release of asbestos fibers and minimizes the chance of exposure.”
However, high government penalties will not save the lives currently in peril because of this added risk of developing asbestos-related cancers. All these fines can do is punish the offenders. They can not take away the pain, suffering and struggle many mesothelioma and asbestosis victims face on a regular basis. Workers are regularly put at risk during these massive asbestos clean-up projects, with little upfront protection.
Isn’t it time to ban this deadly substance? Join us and help us ban asbestos now.