Tacoma firm owners admit fraud in asbestos-removal training
By Craig Welch, The Seattle Times
The workers sat down in the makeshift classroom, prepared to learn how to safely remove cancer-causing asbestos.
Instead, the instructor turned on a video of the 2004 action flick “Van Helsing.”
The owners of a Tacoma company that was among a mere handful certified by the state to train workers to inspect or handle asbestos pleaded guilty on Friday in Superior Court for faking training programs for years.
It’s just the latest in a string of issues nationwide with companies responsible for dealing with the ubiquitous hazardous substance commonly found in ceilings, siding and insulation.
“We get a lot of calls on individuals who are cutting corners — either from a business or a colleague,” Tyler Amon, special agent in charge with the Environmental Protection Agency’s law-enforcement division in Seattle, said in an interview.
“But what we are focused on is where it’s concentrated in a criminal enterprise.”
The Tacoma company, Emergency Management Training, let workers skip training altogether or show up for as little as 30 minutes of an eight-hour course. Owners submitted false records to let workers avoid state-mandated follow-up. It forged documents so its own untrained employees could bid on a hazardous-materials-removal job for the military at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The company even took money under the table so that uncertified contractors could evaluate schools and hospitals to see if they were asbestos-free. Read more