California trucking company to pay $150,000 for improper asbestos removal, disposal

25 Sep 2015 by under Legal, News

Gavel Scales of Justice American flag square 100x100 California trucking company to pay $150,000 for improper asbestos removal, disposalA trucking company has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle an environmental lawsuit alleging it improperly removed, transported, and attempted to dump insulation, potentially exposing workers and the public to lethal asbestos fibers.

According to the office of Monterey County District Attorney James Burlison, Robles Trucking Quality Service Inc. dismantled a greenhouse without following proper asbestos abatement and removal procedures, which are required by law to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

Robles improperly stripped insulation containing 10 percent asbestos from steam lines and steel pipes in the structure, the D.A.’s office alleged. Under California law, materials containing just one percent asbestos are considered hazardous and require special handling.

The company then improperly transported the asbestos waste and attempted to dump it at the Johnson Canyon Landfill in Gonzales, Calif., which does not allow the disposal of hazardous waste.

The Robles crew was stopped and the landfill contacted the Monterey Bay Air Pollution Control District, Burlison’s office said. Upon investigation authorities found that the Robles workers failed to follow the required procedures for disturbing, transporting, and disposing of asbestos.

Robles claimed that the company didn’t know that the materials contained asbestos, but Mr. Burlison said that by taking on the job, Robles accepted liability for it, making it a strict liability offense.

When asbestos fibers become airborne, they may be inhaled. Once in the lungs, asbestos fibers promote the development of lung cancers and other diseases, such as mesothelioma. Asbestos can also promote cancer in the heart and stomach.

“It’s encoded in federal law that there is no known safe exposure level to asbestos,” Burlison told the Bay Area’s KRON 4 News. “If you are even transporting it, people in the public can breathe the asbestos fibers.”

Robles cooperated with prosecutors to resolve the case and agreed to pay $110,000 in civil penalties and $40,000 for investigation and enforcement expenses. Civil penalties will be reduced by $30,000 “if the defendants timely dispose of the waste as set forth in the judgment,” KRON 4 reported, citing the district attorney’s office.

“A lot of pipes have asbestos in them,” Burlison told KRON 4. “Be careful and have a professional check. Contact the air district and don’t put the public at risk. It costs a little extra, but you want to make sure you do it the right way.”

Sources:
KRON 4 News
The Californian

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