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Month: June 2013

News

Asbestos Halts Demolition of Old Homestead Nursing Home

Kittery, Maine – Approximately a month following the dilapidated Homestead Nursing Home (located on Rt. 1) was said to be torn down, David Sowerby, the owner of the building, said a few days ago that he came across asbestos problems, causing delays.

Mr. Sowerby says he is planning to finish the job this summer. However, he has not yet informed his plans to the town authorities, who ordered to demolish the building last December and the allowed an extension which expired on 27th May.

Councilor Jeff Brake says the town hasn’t heard anything from Mr. Sowerby, still the building is open to the vagrants and is rat-infested. He said somebody will get hurt.

The structure was deemed by the town council as “dangerous” under state regulations in November and December. Duncan McEachern, the town attorney, issued an order which required the removal of the structure within 2 months.

In March, Sowerby petitioned the town council successfully for a 2 months extension, claiming that the demolition was very expensive when snow was there on the ground. He got an extension up to 27th May, and the backhoes formerly seen at that site are not there now.

Sowerby says as the contractor started preparing the structure for demolition, he discovered the asbestos which halted the project. According to Sowerby, he hired an asbestos abatement company, but then he came across issues such as finding out a location to dispose of the substance.

Sowerby said now he is sending the material to the Crossroads Landfill at Norridgewock in Maine, which will add US$90000 in transportation expense alone. Sowerby said he didn’t want to calculate the demolition cost, but it will be a huge amount. He said the company hired by him for removing the dangerous mineral had to go for other works which had been scheduled in advance. According to Sowerby, the company is unable to come back to the Homestead Nursing Home site for a few more weeks.

Brake says he is planning to bring this issue up during the next meeting of the Town Council, as he feels the orders given by the town has been flaunted by Sowerby.

Asbestos is a very dangerous and highly regulated material. It can be deadly if it’s been handled improperly. Asbestos removal is a very time consuming and costly process, but it is a must prior to the demolition of any building containing the substance.

News

Workers Cleanup Asbestos Debris near Warehouse

Indianapolis, Indiana – Workers have begun the cleanup of toxic substances which were scattered across neighbourhoods following the Belmont Ave. warehouse fire on last Saturday.

Health authorities were concerned regarding the paper waste which contained asbestos material which had scattered in the surrounding and even places that are miles away.

An environmental remediation has spread out its employees over the area close to the warehouse to begin the cleanup job.

The Marion County Department of Health asked the building owner to clean up the waste, and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) too became involved for ensuring that the substances containing asbestos material had been picked up before reducing them into fine particles which could be easily inhaled.

Jaime Brown, of the Environmental Protection Agency, said they also will be doing asbestos remediation work inside the factory. However, at present, they will focus on the mess outside in the localities, Brown said.

On Friday, authorities warned people to ensure they do not touch the substance. The officials said the substance could emit hazardous fibres into the surroundings. Brown said a few of that was paper-like. Given the apt conditions it is quite possible that a few of them could be as distant as 7 miles, he said.

According to the EPA, workers will cleanup neighbourhoods and accumulate the waste containing dangerous asbestos material as long as needed.

Investigators are going to continue their probe into the origin and cause of the fire. Officials requested anybody who finds debris to wear protective gloves, wet the debris by pouring water, and dispose it of in a polythene bag.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency said they though majority of the waste in question was limited to the neighborhoods close to the warehouse.

Asbestos, a material mined from the nature, has many excellent features. For instance, asbestos is strong, flexible, durable, and cheap and it has excellent resistance against corrosion, fire and electricity. Such wonderful features made asbestos very popular among construction as well as production industries. But, later it was revealed that asbestos is a very hazardous material which can even cause deadly cancer. Once this fact became known, several countries across the world banned asbestos completely. United States has not banned the use of asbestos completely. However, asbestos is a highly regulated substance in the nation. Whoever handles asbestos or asbestos-containing products are supposed follow all the regulations concerning the material.

News

Plainville Contractor’s Trial in Asbestos Case to Start

Dedham, Massachusetts – The court trial of a heating contractor from Plainville, who had been accused of removed asbestos material improperly and illegally from a Medway single-family rental home and of intimidating an occupant who resided there, will start on this Thursday in the Superior Court in Norfolk.

Nicholas Pasquantonio was indicted by a grand jury in Norfolk County in 2012 January on 2 counts of breaching the state (MA) Clean Air Act (CAA) for allegedly failing to notify the state DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) regarding asbestos removal and for failing to effectively prevent emission of asbestos fibers, in addition to a count of intimidation of witness. Pasquantonio is 42 years old.

David Einis, a Weston resident who owns the property, also is facing 2 counts of breaching the state Clean Air Act. Einis is 59 years old. Both Einis and Pasquantonio pleaded not guilty to the charges against them at their indictments in 2012 March, the office of Martha Coakley, the Attorney General of Massachusetts.

In 2010 December, Einis allegedly hired Pasquantonio, an unlicensed asbestos contractor with Johnny’s Oil Service in Plainville. Pasquantonio had to replace a boiler in the Medway home. A family including several children was living in that home.

Pasquantonio failed to seal off the basement when replacing the boiler. Additionally, he released pipe insulation that contained asbestos, a dangerous material which is known to cause terminal cancer.

Kenneth Kimmell, the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, said that the department closely worked with the Medway Health Board to follow up on the finding and addressing the breaches further which were found there at the worksite. He said the enforcement would send a clear message that the rules for protecting public health, which include the removal as well as disposal of asbestos, should be followed and whoever fails to follow this would be punished.

The defendants allegedly did not inform the MassDEP prior to disturbing asbestos – a highly regulated material in the entire United States – while replacing the boiler. They did not follow proper procedures either to prevent the emission of asbestos fibres.

According to the Labor Department Standards, only licensed contractors are supposed to carry out asbestos removal. It also requires them to follow the standards for safe removal, storing, and disposal of the substance. The contractor should notify government authorities prior to the commencement of any job that involves handling of asbestos.

News

Woman Says Secondary Asbestos Exposure Caused Mesothelioma

Gretna, Louisiana – A woman from St. Tammany Parish has filed a lawsuit against several companies where her ex-husband had worked, alleging that she developed deadly lung cancer because of her exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers carried home by him when coming back from his jobs.

Mrs. Julie Lavigne, individually as well as her minor children’s behalf, filed the lawsuit against Kellogg Brown & Root Incorporated, Shell Oil Co, Shell Chemicals, Shell Chemical Co, Brown & Root Incorporated, Lenny’s Plumbing Incorporated and American Do All Corp. on 18th April in the Twenty-Fourth Judicial Dist. Court.

Lavigne says she shared home with Mr. Michael K Lavigne between 1990 and 2008. Then he was working with ‘Kellogg Brown and Root’ (KBR), Shell Chemicals, Shell Oil Co, and his job included removing insulation and pipes, repairing pipes (which were insulated using asbestos), the suit states. Additionally, he had to handle and remove the asbestos-containing insulation itself.

The plaintiff was diagnosed on 6th August, 2012 with malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer developed because of exposure to asbestos fibres, according to the lawsuit.

The defendants allegedly failed: to warn their employees about the health risks linked to asbestos exposure; to warn the employees about the risks associated with carrying asbestos-tainted work clothes home for washing; to give special overalls that could be discarded as the work of the day ends so that home laundering can be avoided; to set up showers at workplace for enabling workers to clean asbestos fibres and dust before moving to home; to advise workers about the dangerous features of asbestos; to implement proper engineering controls for eliminating or significantly reducing the workers’ exposure to the fibres and dust of asbestos; to use safe (asbestos-free) building products and insulation; and to completely isolate work area for preventing asbestos exposure.

The plaintiff suffered immense physical pain, mental pain, emotional distress, and fear of death because of her disease, the suit states. Additionally, she lost enjoyment in life, incurred huge medical costs, lost wages, and lost her earning capacity as a result of her mesothelioma, the plaintiff argues. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified compensation also for disfigurement, physical impairment, embarrassment, mental and physical disability, psychological and emotional distress and anguish, court expenses, and loss of society.

Eric Williams, an attorney from Metairie-based law firm Williams Law Office and Richard Fernandez of Metairie-based Richard J Fernandez are representing the plaintiff in the case.

News

Mesothelioma Victim’s Children Settles Lawsuit against Union Oil and Chevron

The children of a deceased refinery worker have settled the asbestos exposure lawsuit they had filed against Union Oil of California and Chevron USA. The suit was moving toward a trial before United States District Judge Bob Wortham, of 58th District Court.

The family of deceased Barney Tarver was suing the companies, alleging that they exposed Mr. Tarver negligently to deadly asbestos fibres all through his employment. The lawsuit was filed by William Tarver, on behalf of the estate of Barney Tarver. It was filed in the Jefferson County Dist. Court on 6th March 2012.

According to court records, the parties in the case have filed a joint motion for dismissing the case on 17th May. The motion has been granted by 58th United States District Court Judge Hon. Bob Wortham on 12th June.

According to the lawsuit filed by Tarver’s children, the deceased was an employee at the Port Arthur Gulf Oil Refinery (Jefferson County). The plaintiffs alleged that Tarver was exposed regularly to the deadly fibers and dust of asbestos while he was working in that refinery. The lawsuit had not specified his employment dates. Because of everyday exposure to deadly asbestos fibres, Tarver developed an incurable cancer, known as malignant mesothelioma, and passed away on 27th January, 2012, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant companies were negligent and they failed to warn Tarver and his colleagues regarding the hazards of exposure to asbestos. The suit was seeking exemplary as well as punitive damages. The plaintiffs were represented by Provost Umphrey lawyer D’Juanna Parks from Beaumont.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare disease in which cancerous (malignant) cells are developed in the thin tissue layer which covers the lungs and lines chest cavity (pleura) or the thin tissue layer which lines the abdomen (peritoneum). Cancer that affects the pleura is known as pleural mesothelioma and that affects the peritoneum is called peritoneal mesothelioma. In general, mesothelioma can be defined as the cancer of the mesothelium, the membrane which lines the abdomen and chest and surrounds the entire organs in these areas. The cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Former construction workers, demolition workers, boiler makers, plumbers, electricians, ship builders, people who worked at places where asbestos was present are at the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma because once asbestos was very popular among the industries were these people worked. Asbestos-related diseases usually start showing symptoms 30 or 40 years after the exposure.

News

Asbestos Abatement Contractor to Appeal DEQ Fines

Bend, Oregon – A Bend asbestos abatement company’s owner said on Monday that he will appeal the $4500 penalty issued by the state Environmental Quality Department alleging illegal work during a Redmond High School project early this year. He is disputing the charges and threatening that he will file a suit over any business loss.

DEQ had announced on Monday about the fines issued against Oregon-based Alpine Abatement Associates for violation of safe work practices, though there wasn’t any direct threat to the environmental and human health. According to the agency, the company did not properly wet the ceiling insulation which contained asbestos material during an abatement project on 13th February at the Redmond H.S.

If asbestos is not wetted properly at the time of removal, its fibers are likely to be released into the surroundings in containment area, DEQ said. The removal of asbestos was carried out in an entirely contained and enclosed area, according to the agency. Therefore, not faculty or students were exposed to the deadly fibers, DEQ said.

Asbestos fibres can cause serious respiratory problems and deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Anyway, in this case, little risk was there as the work area had been sealed off and the work was done in an inaccessible containment area, DEQ said.

Jack Billings, the owner of the company, says he has been in this business for almost 25 years. He says this is just the 2nd violation cited by the DEQ. He said OSHA has never cited his company for any violations.

Mr. Billings says the DEQ was totally wrong in the case. He said he has consulted with a lawyer to challenge the citations. He said there were no ceiling insulation in the high school building and the workers were actually removing fireproofing which contained asbestos. He said the DEQ does not have any evidence to prove their allegations. They noticed some substance there which seemed to be dry, Billings says, and a few bags which appeared as not having sufficient water. However, all that was in a containment area and all of them can be wetted as they are taken out, he said.

The inspection was conducted by Frank Messina, a specialist of air quality in the DEQ office in Bend. He still maintains that asbestos had not been properly wetted in order to prevent the fibres from being airborne, although air samples didn’t show anything.

News

Asbestos Abatement Ongoing at New Haven Courthouse

New Haven, CT – Those who have walked or worked in downtown New Haven might have noticed the construction works at the Elm Street Superior Courthouse structure. The work includes abatement of asbestos from construction materials.

People who are working in the courthouse were curious to understand why they weren’t informed of the removal of asbestos if it is actually dangerous to health.

Red tape labels have been placed indicating dangerous asbestos hazard, hanging above huge trash bags. Those bags are place just a few feet away from stairs. All through the day, people use those stairs for getting in and out the superior courthouse located on Elm St.

Similar bags were also found sitting above the walkway on the Church St. side of the structure, a portion busy with walkers. “If signs were there indicating the presence of asbestos, definitely I would try my level best to avoid that area,” a resident said.

The renovation project in the New Haven courthouse is overseen by the state. The project also includes removal of some materials containing asbestos.

According to some reports, though bags have been labeled about asbestos danger, they are unseen behind a covering. Therefore, those who just pass through the area wound not notice it.

According to the health codes for asbestos removal projects, signs must be posted that meet all the specifications set out at everyone coming to the area. However, this project doesn’t fall under these guidelines. The reason is that asbestos which is getting removed there is trapped inside the other materials. It can’t be airborne. This means, it does not pose a health concern for the public. Asbestos is dangerous only if its fibers become airborne.

Asbestos consists of numerous tiny fibers that are not visible to naked eyes. These fibers become airborne when the material is deteriorated, damaged, broken or disturbed, which means the fibers of asbestos are released into the air. Anyone passes through that area could breathe in these fibers. Once breathed in, these fibers stay on the lungs for long without any damage. The problems usually start several decades after the inhalation. Asbestos fibers can cause scarring in the lungs. This condition is known as asbestosis. Asbestosis is usually terminal. The fibers can also cause development of tumors on mesothelium, the thin protective lining of the lungs. The condition is known as mesothelioma. Medical science has so far been unable to find an effective cure for mesothelioma.

News

Billionaire Gets Imprisonment for 18 Years over Asbestos Deaths

Milan, Italy – A billionaire industrialist from Switzerland, who had been convicted for his role in the biggest asbestos scandal in Italy, had his sentence extended on Monday to 18 years. Campaigners said the ruling will set the precedent for lawsuits over safety at workplace.

Stephan Schmidheiny had been proved negligent in causing 2000 or more asbestos-linked deaths. In addition to imprisonment, the appeals court, located in Turin, asked Schmidheiny to pay a huge amount in compensation to local victims, their families, and the authorities.

The previous owner of Switzerland-based construction material manufacturer Eternit was proved guilty in 2012 February. He was originally sentenced to imprisonment for 16 years and asked to pay the other damages.

Schmidheiny was not sent immediately to jail as, in Italy, prison sentences are not generally enforced as long as the appeals processes are not exhausted. This could usually take several years. Schmidheiny is 65 years old. He was not present in the court when the jury rejected the appeal filed him against the sentence. Instead, it extended the prison time on Monday.

The court also dismissed the charges against the shareholder and ex-executive of the company Jean L Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne as he passed away on 21st May when he was 91 years old.

The victims’ relatives and numerous others were present in the courthouse to hear the ruling. Some of them had banners in their hands saying “Eternit: Justice!”

Osservatorio N Amianto, the association of the victims, expressed happiness in the ruling. The association said the verdict would encourage the fight by asbestos victims and families to live in a world that does not have asbestos and the greed for profits which sacrifices human lives.

Prosecutors argued that Schmidheiny purposefully failed in installing the measures to protect the health of workers and to prevent them from being exposed to deadly asbestos fibers at the Italian plants of Eternit. Eternit was closed in year 1986.

More than 6000 individuals – including former plant employees and the residents of 4 towns where the factories were situated – are asking for damages in this case. The compensation includes 20 m euros to the Piedmont area and 31 m euros to Casale Monferrato town hall where the company had its major Italian plant.

Schmidheiny’s spokesman said they are going to take the case to the top appeals court in Italy. He said the present ruling is absurd and scandalous.