Corporate misconduct regarding asbestos has a long and well-documented history, yet it is the kind of selfish and greed-fueled behavior that occurs all too often in the corporate world. One could even argue that this behavior is due to the corporate mandate is to increase profits.
However, when government agencies that are supposed to be protecting the health and welfare of its citizens engages in the same kind of deception – knowingly and deliberately exposing people to a deadly substance – there is no such excuse. It has now been revealed that State and Federal government officials knowingly dredged asbestos-contaminated sand off the bottom of Lake Michigan and dumped it on public beaches in Illinois, resulting in asbestos exposure to millions of people, unaware of what had been happening. A 2003 report revealed that Illinois Beach State Park has been polluted with tremolite, an exceptionally deadly form of asbestos, and that such asbestos has been washing ashore for years. These tremolite fibers were released into Lake Michigan as the result of a Superfund site that was the responsibility of the now bankrupt Johns-Manville Corporation.
Regulations at this site were for some reason not enforced. At the same time, Midwest Generation had several tons of friable asbestos fibers that had been dredged from the lake bottom. State and federal officials took no action, and have since made every attempt to hide the facts of the polluted beaches. A complaint was filed in 2006 with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald by the Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society of Chicago. The complaint alleges criminal corruption and fraud on the part of federal and Illinois state officials, attempts to falsify documents related to scientific studies, misuse of federal and state tax revenues in attempts to conceal the facts, and obstruction of justice. The complaint requests a criminal investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, activist Jeffery Camplin and the Dunes Preservation Society is pushing for public health assessments, more testing and sampling of sands in the area, thorough risk assessment and clear public warnings. Camplin is scheduled to deliver a presentation on the issue at the 2008 ASTM Asbestos Conference.