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Month: July 2013


Postal Worker Sues Companies over Asbestosis

An asbestos suit filed by a postal worker against some asbestos removal contractors, who were responsible for an abatement project conducted at a Post Office at New Orleans in the 1980s, has been removed by the judge from Orleans Parish Dist. Court to the United States District Court in New Orleans, LA.

Mr. Louis Wilson claims that he had been exposed to toxic asbestos fibers during the abatement project carried out at the Post Office and, as a result of this exposure, he developed malignant mesothelioma. The project was carried out between 1984 and 1986, according to the suit which was filed on 7th May. Laughlin-Thyssen, Eagle, Bayercropscience and Gibbs Construction are the defendants in the case.

The case was removed to federal court on 7th March by Laughlin-Thyssen.

According to the plaintiff, during the asbestos removal project, several materials containing asbestos – such as fireproofing, pipe covering and tiles – were removed. He says asbestos fibres were emitted into the immediate vicinity during the removal process.

Wilson says Gibbs Construction, one of the defendants, was the contractor who was responsible to handle the project. Gibbs has agreed contractually to indemnify the United States Postal Service for any negligence from its side at the time of the cleanup process. Laughlin-Thyseen, another defendant, was a subcontractor who carried out the asbestos removal project.

According to the suit, the defendant companies were negligent as they allowed intermingling and contact between asbestos removal workers and the employees of USPS, as a result of which asbestos fibers became airborne and the employees were exposed to those cancer-causing fibers. Asbestos fibers were released through the building’s heating and air conditioning systems and contaminated public spaces, the suit alleges.

Eagle was responsible for the insulation work in the building, including its removal as well as testing. The lawsuit states that the employees of Eagle negligently caused asbestos dust and asbestos fibres to be dispersed into the atmosphere in the immediate area where he was working.

Amchem made and marketed the mastic that was used at the time of the original construction and insulation of the building. The plaintiff argues that asbestos was present in the mastic and the company had the legal obligation to warn its consumers regarding the hazards of exposure to the product.

The plaintiff is asking for damages for his sufferings, physical pain, mental pain, fear of death, loss of life’s enjoyments, medical expenses, and legal expenses.


OSHA Cites Hospital and Contractor for Asbestos Violations

Buffalo, New York – The United States Labor Department’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration or OSHA has cited DGA Builders and Rochester University Strong Memorial Hospital, both of Rochester (Monroe County, New York), for 14 serious workspace safety & health standards violations, mainly involving asbestos, a mineral that is notorious for causing a deadly cancer known as malignant mesothelioma. The companies are facing $53200 in total proposed fines. The companies were cited for asbestos violations after an inspection conducted by the Buffalo Area Office of OSHA which started on 18th April. The agency was responding to a complaint they had received.

Strong hospital had hired DGA Builders for performing renovation/demolition work at a site where materials containing asbestos were present. The inspection conducted by OSHA discovered that, before starting the work, Strong hospital didn’t check for the presence, amount and location of asbestos materials in the work site and didn’t label such substances as well as post warning signs.

Additionally, both the DGA and the hospital failed to perform adequate monitoring of asbestos exposure, implement proper engineering as well as work practice controls for limiting asbestos exposure levels. Additionally, the defendants failed: to provide its workers with proper training; to implement a proper respiratory protection plan; and to inform the other contractors regarding the presence of asbestos-containing materials and about the requirements safety measures for the workers, according to OSHA’s website.

Art Dube, the Buffalo area director of OSHA, said that the situation could’ve been definitely avoided if the hospital had taken proper protective actions at the job’s onset. By failing to do that, both the defendants put their workers at the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres, Dube said. Consequently, OSHA cited the hospital for 8 serious violations, with a fine of $40000. 6 serious citations were issued to DGA Builders, with a fine of $13200. According to OSHA, a serious violation takes place if there is a significant possibility that severe physical injury or death could be caused by a danger which the employer should’ve known.

Robert Kulick, the regional administrator of OSHA in the state of New York, said employers must implement an efficient injury & illness prevention program which should require them to work with the employees for identifying address and eliminating dangers before they affect workers.

The defendants have fifteen business days from the day they received the citations as well as the proposed fines to appeal the findings.


Records Indicate Asbestos Violations before Philadelphia Building Collapse

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – A demolition contractor from Philadelphia has been cited for a number of violations at the work site where a wall fell down onto a nearby Salvation Army store, causing deaths of 6 individuals, reports indicate.

The city has released some emails, permits and some other documents on Friday in connection with the collapse took place on 5th June. The collapse is now under civil as well as criminal investigations.

Sean Benschop, the demolition subcontractor who allegedly operated heavy equipment when it was impaired, has been charged with unintentional manslaughter. The documents show that Griffin Campbell, the main contractor, had been cited 2 months ago for beginning interior tearing down work before notifying the city. Campbell had also been cited for storing asbestos-containing materials in a dust bin at the work site. Campbell told the investigator somebody had thrown away the dangerous substance into the truck he owns.

The records indicate that asbestos has been discovered at the work site since then – in spite of a pre-demolition pledge the structures were free of asbestos.

Campbell’s attorney didn’t immediately return any message on Friday, but he had told earlier that his client was a very experienced demolition contractor who was there on the site the day the wall collapsed.

Asbestos is a group of mineral fibers occurring in the nature. Asbestos is very strong and it has excellent resistance against heat, corrosion, fire and electricity. Because of such useful properties, the material was extensively used until the 1980s as fire proofing and insulation. Additionally, it was used as an element in other construction materials such as cements and ceiling tiles. There are 3 main sorts of asbestos – amosite or brown asbestos, crocidolite or blue asbestos, and chrysotile or white asbestos.

The hazards of asbestos exposure became known in the 1980s. Since then, the material has been highly regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality. Whoever violates asbestos safety regulations can be penalized. Exposure to asbestos is linked to serious respiratory disorders and deadly diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos-related diseases won’t occur soon after the exposure. Instead, they normally take 20 to 40 years or even more time to start showing their symptoms. But, once detected, they won’t take much time to kill the victims. Mesothelioma patients usually die within 18 months after getting diagnosed with the disease.


DEQ Fines Oregon Hotel for Asbestos Violations

Portland, Oregon – The Oregon DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) issued a fine of $29,028 against Thunderbird Hotel (Oregon) for alleged asbestos violations. Thunderbird Hotel LLC owned the Hayden Island hotel, which has been vacant for a long time, west of Interstate V Bridge which caught fire in 2012 September.

The citations regarding asbestos violations and consequent fines come almost 10 months after the disastrous fire in North Portland. It was in last September that the Thunderbird Hotel erupted in flames. After the fire, the site was cleaned up by work crews in the followed weeks.

According to the environmental protection department, Thunderbird Hotel did not hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor prior to the demolition of the burned structures. At the time of and following the tearing down and salvage, debris containing asbestos accumulated openly in the property, the DEQ says.

A year 2006 survey discovered that the structures had asbestos material in flooring, insulation, popcorn texture, roofing, fireproofing, and other substances. The tearing down likely sent deadly asbestos fibres into the air. According to the DEQ, inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious respiratory problems and terminal illnesses including cancer.

Esther Westbrook, an environmental law specialist and policy analyst with the DEQ, said the corporations saved approximately $8000 by having crews do the tearing down, instead of hiring a licensed asbestos removal contractor to clean up the entire asbestos and asbestos-containing materials in the site. Westbrook said the companies that put profit over the safety of workers and the public should expect such punishments. He said the owner cannot claim ignorance as the operators of Thunderbird Hotel had got a report on asbestos in year 2006, which clearly mentioned where the deadly material was present on the property.

The fire on the building is still under federal investigation.

The hotel hired an authorized asbestos contractor for handling the remaining materials containing asbestos. The DEQ says it has considered this fact while determining the fine amount. Thunderbird Hotel has until 23rd July to appeal or pay the penalties.

Under the U.S. regulations, demolition or renovation of any structures containing asbestos should be done after completely removing the dangerous material because asbestos is very dangerous if it is disturbed or broken. Building owners are not allowed to simply remove asbestos by themselves or using ordinary workers. Only licensed contractors are supposed to deal with asbestos.


South Leverton property developer Sentenced for Asbestos Violations

A South Leverton property developer was ordered to pay £100,000 in penalties and costs, in addition to 8 months’ suspended prison sentence, for allegedly exposing employees to hazardous asbestos fibers.

The arguments were heard in Nottingham Crown Court. Government prosecutors argued that Roger Carlton neglected the presence of insulation board containing asbestos at the work site of former King Edward VI School on London Rd in Retford.

The 64-year-old developer was aware of the presence of the potential hazard on the worksite, but neglected the suggestions regarding its safe and proper removal, court documents indicate.

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) visited the school building that was being converted into a housing complex on 1st March 2012. The inspector recognized the sort of building that’s known to have asbestos. Carlton was advised on that. The inspector told him what he has to do for complying with the rules and regulations and to ensure the safety of the public and workers. He was advised regarding how to remove the materials safely.

After a week, the HSE got a complaint from a citizen, which stated that asbestos material was not being cleaned up legally and properly. The HSE asked him to conduct asbestos surveys and remove the material by using the service of licensed professionals. The inspectors visited the work site again after a few days. They discovered asbestos-containing rubble on the site, which hadn’t been disposed of adequately as advised by the agency. The agency immediately served a prohibition notice and stopped all the works. The agency officials made their 3rd visit on the site and discovered the workers in breach of the prohibition notice issued by them. The workers were putting insulation board containing asbestos into garbage, causing huge clouds of toxic dust swirling across the worksite.

Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral which can cause deadly diseases if its microscopic fibers are breathed in. Asbestos releases its fibers into the air if it is disturbed, deteriorated, damaged or broken. So, if asbestos is not handled properly, its toxic fibers become airborne. Inhalation of asbestos fibers is linked to deadly diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Because of their long latency period, asbestos-related diseases are extremely hard to be diagnosed. The diseases generally start showing their symptoms 30 or 40 years after the exposure. However, once detected, they kill victims within 18-24 months.


EPA Says Troy Landfill doesn’t have Asbestos Contamination

Troy, Montana – Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assured on Wednesday that they’d have a letter soon to confirm that a large wood pile in Troy city is not tainted with dangerous asbestos. For several months, they have been anticipating a letter so that they can do something with that woodpile, such as move it or burn it.

Rebecca Thomas, a spokesperson representing the EPA, assured the Commissioners on Wednesday that they’d receive the letter by the coming Thursday. The agency says activity-based asbestos testing has concluded that those wood chips were not actually contaminated.

Anyway, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is not agreeing with this finding. The DEQ is now challenging the test results. Commissioner Mr. Tony Berget said during the meeting that the dump, where the wood chips are located, is running out of room.

Test results of the wood piles, which were sold from a Superfund site in Montana for using in a landscaping display, showed that they contained asbestos, but at very low levels. According to the EPA officials, the levels are not unacceptable as they do not pose any threat to human health.

The agency got test results on last Friday. The report offered some sort of relief to the Libby town, where extensive asbestos contamination killed approximately 400 individuals and sickened almost 1750.

The testing was conducted after local officials, businesses and residents raised concerns. The business owners bought the material in huge amounts for spreading in parks, around homes, and to use as an erosion control. Preliminary tests had indicated asbestos presence. However, the amounts were not known then.

Asbestos is a group of minerals occurring in the nature. Asbestos has excellent resistance to corrosion, heat, fire and electricity. It has been used extensively in various products, such as piping insulation, floor tiles, construction materials, cement and other joining compounds. The material was also used in automobile clutches and brakes. Asbestos was a common presence in shipyards and boiler rooms.

Now asbestos is known for its hazards. The use of the material has now been highly regulated by both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Asbestos fibres associated with these hazards are extremely small and can’t be seen with naked eyes. Inhalation of these fibres can result in scar tissue buildup in the lungs – a condition known as asbestosis. Asbestos exposure can also cause mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the mesothelium.


Asbestos Victim’s Family to Seek Compensation

A Devon asbestos victim’s family is starting a legal fight to win compensation.

Charles Passmore, who worked at SW Gas sites in Swindon and Barnstaple in 1950s and 60s, died after developing an asbestos-linked illness. Passmore passed away last year when he was 82 years old.

Passmore’s family says they thought working there could’ve meant he came in touch with hazardous asbestos. National Grid, the company that owns SW Gas, says that they are ready to conduct a complete investigation if contacted.

Kevin Passmore, the son of Mr. Charles Passmore, said it was really shock to know that his father had asbestosis.

Kevin said there is anger, upset and shock and that it was just recently that he picked up his father’s ashes.

Charles Passmore died from asbestos-related cancer, caused by his regular exposure to asbestos fibers, on 19th December, according to the office of the Swindon Coroner. Passmore worked for SW Gas at Barbican Rd in Barnstaple between 1957 and 1959 as a stoker. Between 1960 and 1970, he performed the very same job at the company’s Gypsy Ln site, Swindon.

Passmore’s family is now requesting his former colleagues at SW Gas in Gypsy Ln and Barnstaple to come forward and help them collect the details regarding the presence of asbestos in those sites.

Brigitte Chandler, a lawyer with Swindon-based law firm ‘Charles Lucas and Marshall’, which represents the family of Passmore in this case, said symptoms of asbestos-linked diseases usually takes 2 to 6 decades to appear. But, once appeared, they kill victims in a year or 2, he said. Chandler said his law firm is keen to talk with anybody who is able to confirm that asbestos was present at the SW Gas sites when Mr. Passmore was working there.

In a recent statement, National Grid (SW Gas Company’s successor) said they had not got any correspondence from the family of Mr. Passmore. However, National Grid said, they are ready to conduct a thorough investigation into the issue if the family contact the company.

Asbestos is a mineral occurring in the nature. It has so many good features such as high strength, durability, ductility, resistance to heat, electricity and fire etc. Asbestos is a very cheap material as well. Such wonderful features made it very popular among industries. Almost all industries used asbestos extensively until the 1980s. Its use became regulated and restricted as the hazards associated with asbestos exposure became known.


Oregon DEQ Fines Peacock Cleaners for Asbestos Violations

The Oregon DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) issued fines totaling US$7037 to Daryl D Allison, the owner of now-defunct Peacock Cleaners Inc in Salem (Oregon) for breaching dry cleaner and asbestos regulations.

Peacock Cleaners was operated by Allison at 1705 State St. in Salem (OR) from year 1995 till 2013 January when Allison shut down the business. During a 2012 boiler inspection, the inspector told Allison that a small piece of piping insulation in that boiler room had snapped off and fallen down. The pipe insulation contained asbestos. It crumbles very easily and therefore, the chance for hazardous asbestos fibres to be released into the air is significantly high.

But, Allison just picked up that asbestos-containing piece and then tossed it in a trash, leaving parts of the pipe insulation on the floor of the boiler room and on a footpath.

Only licensed abatement contractors are allowed to carry out an asbestos removal project. But Allison didn’t have the license to deal with asbestos. DEQ issued a fine of $2804 against him for this particular violation.

In addition, Allison was cited for storing asbestos material on the floor inside as well as outside his facility. Waste containing asbestos should be handled legally and properly. It should be contained for meeting state as well as federal requirements of disposal intended to protect the health of the public.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance. It has excellent resistance against heat, fire and electricity and was extensively used for insulation purpose. However, asbestos is a human carcinogen as well.

Additionally, Allison was issued a $4233 fine for breaching rules regarding the handling (use as well as disposal) of tetrachloroethylene (PCE or perc), which is a very toxic solvent typically used for dry cleaning clothes. It is a highly regulated material. Tetrachloroethylene has a very high potential for causing groundwater contamination. It is a dangerous air pollutant as well. According to the DEQ, Allison disposed tetrachloroethylene into a sanitary sewer. City workers felt PCE’s odor in that sanitary sewer.

During an October inspection, the inspectors with the DEQ noted that Mr. Allison had installed one pipe as well as hose linking the machine for dry cleaning to a drain, directing the tetrachloroethylene-contaminated waste water to a sanitary sewer. Inspectors found the presence of the chemical in the drain.

Daryl D Allison can appeal the penalties on or before 3rd July.


Former Soldier’s Family Seeks Asbestos Compensation

An asbestos-linked cancer victim’s daughter is appealing for help in her legal battle to win compensation.

Mr. Phillip Smith, the father of Nichola Smith and a former soldier, was diagnosed in December 2012 with malignant mesothelioma, a very rare but incurable cancer caused by the inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibres. The exclusive reason for contracting mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos fibres. This cancer does not have any effective cure. Victims usually die within a year.

Mr. Phillip Smith was a Staff Sergeant who worked with the Ministry of Defense in Warminster (Western Wiltshire, England) for almost 18 years. His family believes he had been exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres those days.

Nichola says her father worked for the defense ministry between 1982 and 2000. He spent 6 years at the 27 Dist. Workshop located in War minister, W. Wiltshire, and at the Knook Camp (Lethbury). According to Nichola, he had to inspect the campsite, awaiting the troops, so he had to go in where military vehicles were being stripped down. She said they all know asbestos material was present there.

Before working for the Ministry of Defense, Smith was serving in the Army. As part of that job, he had to station in Hong Kong and Germany. Smith is 75 years old now. At present, he is residing at Devizes in Wiltshire.

The diagnosis came 1.5 years after Smith underwent a surgery for removing a cancerous tumor from his tongue. According to Nichola Smith, her father recovered very well and came back to normal life. However, now he is much frailer, Nichola says. Though he is able to go out for his needs, now he is not as enthusiastic as how he was before, she said.

According to his doctors, Smith is quite well right now, but could get worse again at any moment and become breathless easily.

Smith’s daughter says compensation would help her father a lot. She said they might’ve to consider a wheelchair at a certain stage, but Mr. Smith wants to keep independence. Nichola said her father has been an independent man always and likes to do everything he wants by himself.

The family has approached a well-known lawyer in the nation to present their claims in court. The law firm wants Mr. Smith’s former colleagues or anybody else with helpful information to come forward with details on when and where he could have exposed to asbestos.