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Cover up of improper removals leads to $400K fine

Asbestos removal can be a costly and delicate process. It is important that the guidelines regarding proper removal be followed, for the consequences could be deadly to unwitting workers. Also the fine and penalties associated with violating OSHA regulations (as well as state and federal environmental laws) can be much more than removal costs.

Such was the case with, Aapex Environmental Services, a Syracuse, New York company that was accused of violating federal clean air and water regulations over a ten-year period. According to a Syracuse.com report, Aapex’s owner engaged in a continual scheme to convince clients that his company had been following proper asbestos removal protocols, when it had not done so.

Essentially, workers regularly stripped asbestos containing materials from walls (and ceilings) and placed them into bags during demolition projects. They then disposed of the bags in water. However, this practice was improper according to removal standards. (We previously posted that proper removal involved wetting the materials first, in order to limit how many dry fibers would be dispersed).

Also, the company’s owner would send clients false reports indicating that the company was in compliance with federal environmental laws. However, an OSHA investigation following an unsuccessful demolition job led to a justice department inquiry and formal criminal charges.

The company’s owner faced up to five years in prison for the violations (as well as communicating false reports). Through a plea deal, he will serve five years of probation and pay more than $400,000 in restitution.

No details were given as to whether any employees were harmed during in the jobs completed.

Source: Syracuse.com, Clay company owner ordered to pay more than $400K in asbestos case, February 21, 2013

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