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Home demolitions now require asbestos survey

By Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal

Danger AsbestosAsbestos surveying requirements for residential building demolitions will be beefed up beginning Jan. 1.

The Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 705 this year in response to growing concern among Oregonians about exposure to cancer-causing asbestos fibers, which can be released into the air as a result of improper handling or disposal of asbestos-containing materials such as insulation.

As directed by the bill, the Environmental Quality Commission has approved a temporary rule prohibiting demolition of a residence unless an accredited inspector has performed an asbestos survey.

A similar rule already exists for multifamily and other structures.

There are three exemptions to the rule: If the residence was built after Jan. 1, 2004; if all material is managed as asbestos-containing material; or if DEQ approves, on a case-by-case basis, a written request to waive the survey requirement. Read more

 
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N.J. man sentenced for lying about church asbestos removal

By Matt Gray, NJ.com

Judges_GavelA Voorhees man was sentenced to one year and a day in prison Tuesday for claiming he had removed asbestos from a former church when he never actually did the work, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ronen Bakshi, 54, submitted false documents to the City of Philadelphia’s Air Management Services office in connection with a project to remove asbestos-containing material from a former church at 1133 Spring Garden St.

Bakshi billed the non-profit owner of the property for work he never performed, authorities said. Read more

W.Va. Senate unanimously passes asbestos trust claims act

By Chris Dickerson, http://legalnewsline.com/

The West Virginia Senate on Friday unanimously passed Senate Bill 411, creating the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act and the Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act.

The bill, which was sponsored by Kanawha County Republican Senator Tom Takubo, establishes legal standards and procedures for the handling of certain asbestos and silica claims. Additionally, the bill establishes medical criteria procedures, statute of limitations standards, and requires disclosure of existing and potential asbestos bankruptcy trust claims.Asbestos Tape

“As a pulmonary doctor, I’m pleased that the Senate voted today with full bipartisan support to protect funds for West Virginians who are affected by asbestos-related injuries,” Takubo said. “We must ensure funds are healthy five to 10 years from now to help pay for medical bills and family expenses, and this legislation will allow us to do that.”

Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson), Senator Ryan Ferns (R-Ohio), Senator Ed Gaunch (R-Kanawha) and Senator Jeff Mullins (R-Raleigh) also were sponsors of the bill.

“This bill would promote honesty in litigation and help juries reach fully informed decisions as to the cause of a person’s asbestos-related disease,” Carmichael said. “Other states have laws similar to this one, including our neighboring state, Ohio. Read more

State official fired after improper asbestos cleanup


BY Jordan Schrader, http://www.thenewstribune.com

prison

The state has fired the supervisor of an inmate work crew that used shoddy and potentially dangerous work practices in cleaning up asbestos, records show.

The Department of Corrections earlier paid a more than $70,000 fine and closed down its asbestos abatement program.

The agency deployed a crew of about eight male inmates from Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock in June 2013 to remove and dispose of 4,000 square feet of old vinyl floor tiles and adhesive in a dining area of the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy.

In charge was Gary L. Baldwin, the head of the asbestos program. Baldwin is a 19-year veteran of the agency with 15 years as a certified asbestos supervisor and a clean record of performance evaluations.

At times, the inmates didn’t wear proper protective equipment or soak the dry material in water to keep dust out of the air. The crew continued working even after realizing the air-circulation system couldn’t be turned off, and it missed a spot while putting up a barrier around the dining area.

“Your actions potentially placed offenders, employees, and yourself at risk of life threatening diseases and death, as well as placed the agency at an enormous risk of future liability,” Danielle Armbruster, assistant director of DOC’s Correctional Industries, wrote in a letter dismissing Baldwin.

The agency provided the April 15 letter in response to a records request.

Baldwin is appealing the decision, the agency said. Attempts to reach him last week were unsuccessful.

When questioned by investigators, he alternately described what was done as common practice and blamed inmates for failing to follow procedures they had been taught.

Hunting Point renters demand answers to asbestos contamination at their buildings

By Patricia Sullivan, http://www.washingtonpost.com

Residents of one of Alexandria’s largest affordable apartment complexes grilled federal regulators, local authorities and their landlord Saturday over the discovery of asbestos during renovations of their homes, angrily asking why it took three months for officials to halt the work.

Owners of the 530-unit Hunting Point on the Potomac, formerly Hunting Towers, received a rare stop-work order from the Environmental Protection Agency last week after inspectors discovered asbestos in the floors, doors and windows. The agency also found that workers were not taking legally required precautions.

During four visits to the 63-year-old complex since the beginning of the year, EPA officials found crumbling asbestos in apartments, halls and trash areas where windows and floor tiles are being replaced. No notice of the danger was posted, the EPA said, and workers did not seal the area to protect residents. No certified supervisor was on the job, nor were workers certified in the task of removing hazardous materials. The EPA has ordered testing for airborne asbestos fibers.

The stop-work order is an unusual action by the EPA; only five a year are typically issued, and they rarely involve occupied apartment buildings, an EPA spokeswoman said. Read More

Iowa’s asbestos inspectors overloaded

By Jason Clayworth, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

contained asbestosA contractor’s complaint has prompted closer scrutiny of possible asbestos exposure involving workers at a downtown Des Moines renovation project, but an inspector doesn’t even visit hundreds of sites across Iowa each year where workers could face risks from the cancer-causing material.

The routine lack of asbestos-handling inspections at construction sites in Iowa and across the nation represents a widespread failure to protect the public, environmental safety advocates say.

In Iowa, one inspector enforces U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asbestos removal regulations and oversees as many as 4,500 asbestos removal projects each year. Another inspector must try to enforce federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration asbestos regulations.

“It’s safe to say that enforcement of asbestos regulations nationwide is abysmal,” said Brent Kynoch of the Environmental Information Association, a group based in Maryland focused on health hazards in buildings, specifically asbestos.

“There are no budgets with either the state or federal governments to put the kind of inspection staff out there that we really would require to enforce the regulations,” Kynoch said.  Read More