The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Idaho’s Department of Transportation (ITD) after noticing that they violated several federal asbestos laws. This week, ITD settled the asbestos issue with the EPA, but it came after they already put lot of people in danger by ignoring mandated asbestos regulations.
According to a statement released by the EPA, the IDT violated numerous asbestos regulations while working on demolishing a building located near Idaho’s Priest River.
The violations included failure to notify the EPA of the demolition and failure to inspect the building and site for asbestos. Consequently, the Idaho IDT was fined $51,986 in penalty fees.
The demolition, which started in November, 2014, was performed by ITD, but after numerous public complaints, a consultant company was hired to finish the project. One of the consultants found around 2% to 55% of asbestos littered throughout the site from the building’s debris.
Shortly after learning about the asbestos, ITD hired an asbestos abatement professional to clean it up. However, even though two truckloads of asbestos was removed from the site, it was after the asbestos became airborne, which put numerous workers at risk, along with people who reside in the vicinity of the site.
According to the Director of the EPA Office of Enforcement, Ed Kowalski, the EPA is extremely frustrated and impatient with the Idaho IDT after it put numerous people in danger out of sheer neglect and unkept promises.
“Despite assurance from ITD that they will closely follow asbestos regulations and protect their workers, we are still issuing penalties on what should be straightforward project management. We’re confident that our enforcement and compliance program will ultimately help them to realize the value of doing the right thing.”
Asbestos Demolition Laws
Under federal law, anyone or any company who plans to renovate or demolish a building or structure must first ensure that no asbestos is present. This is usually done by hiring a professional asbestos inspector whose certified with the state where the building is.
If asbestos is present, the building owner must then inform the EPA, in writing, and in turn, retain the services of an asbestos abatement professional who can make sure that the asbestos is contained and removed properly.
These laws exist because of the life-threatening dangers of asbestos. Asbestos found in demolished buildings will permeate through the debris, rock, and soil, and airborne asbestos fibers have the ability to travel throughout the area, and can easily be ingested and inhaled.
Inhaling asbestos fibers has been linked to life-threatening diseases, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer.
According to the EPA, this is not the first time that the Idaho IDT has violated federal asbestos laws. In June of 2014, IDT was fined $55,800 after failing to follow asbestos laws while demolishing a building in Rigby, Idaho.
Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims
If you or a loved one were injured by asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation for medical bills, pain, suffering, lost wages and more. We invite you to use our Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma lawyer in your area. There is currently more than $30 billion set aside for asbestos victims and their family. For additional assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-694-4856.