Proposed Federal Bill Would Bypass Strict Asbestos Rules

A New York state congressman recently introduced legislation to soften asbestos safety standards in condemned buildings — an act which now is causing concern among safety experts.

The so-called “Common Sense Waiver Act” is the first proposal of the year from U.S. Rep. William Owens, D-Plattsburgh. The bill seeks to relieve localities of the financial burdens of performing complete asbestos abatements on buildings that are in imminent danger of collapsing, according to the Watertown Daily Times.

Owens argues that such stringent precautions are unneeded, saying, “What we hope people will do is go in, appropriately wrap the asbestos and take it to an asbestos disposal site. That could be done by a noncertified person. That’s really the goal.”

Full asbestos abatements on these types of building are a requirement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency, not too surprisingly, isn’t showing support for the proposal. According to an EPA press officer, one agency administrator told Owens in a letter: “Asbestos is a cancer-causing substance that must be handled properly to protect people’s health.”

Some asbestos abatement specialists worry that the proposal favors cost-cutting over protecting the health and safety of the public and workers. “In my view you can’t discount the view that it can negatively impact people’s health,” says a safety director at a New York contracting company. The firm handles asbestos abatements. The safety director says, “I think too often we put dollars and cents over people’s health. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.You could be exposing the workers and the public to asbestos.”

Asbestos exposure is linked to a range of serious and deadly diseases, including malignant mesothelioma. This is a terminal cancer that is nearly always caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.

Have you or a loved one developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in the workplace? Call us today for a free legal consultation — learn if you may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.