A United States federal court of appeals has upheld the ten-year prison term given to a sprinkle contractor from Illinois for allegedly hiring untrained laborers and removing asbestos illegally without using any protective apparels. Additionally, the Illinois contractor had disposed of the contaminated debris illegally.
The prosecutors were able to present enough evidence before the jury to prove that Duane O’Malley intentionally violated the federal Clean Air Act (CAA) by illegally removing, shifting and dumping asbestos-containing insulation, the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously.
Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral which can cause diseases such as asbestosis, lung disorders, malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer.
According to court documents, Michael Pinski, a real estate developer, bought a warehouse at Kankakee (Illinois), which contained asbestos insulation wrapped around the pipes. In year 2009, he hired Duane O’Malley’s firm for revamping the sprinkler system of the warehouse.
O’Malley offered that he would remove the asbestos insulation and dispose it of properly if Pinski was ready to give another $12000 in cash without any written contract. As this price was significantly less than the asbestos abatement cost if the job is done by any licensed contractor, according to the office of the United States Attorney. However, neither O’Malley nor his company was licensed to deal with asbestos. O’Malley had no trained employees to comply with the asbestos regulations.
O’Malley hired Mr. Jeff Franc to carry out the work. Franc recruited 3 workers for the task. These workers used a saw and other devices given by O’Malley for striping the dry asbestos-containing insulation off the pipes in the warehouse.
Court documents show that O’Malley didn’t hire anyone who had been trained in asbestos handling. He hadn’t trained Franc or his workers in the right and legal method to get rid of asbestos either, the charging documents state. O’Malley failed to provide water to wet the dry asbestos and the circular saw used by the workers to strip off the insulation produced massive amounts of toxic dust which filled the entire room.
Developer Michael Pinski admitted guilty to violating the CAA. He was given prison sentence for a year. One of the employees of O’Malley, who admitted guilty to violations, received imprisonment for 6 months.
O’Malley was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In addition, the jury asked to him to pay $15000 in fines. O’Malley was also ordered to pay the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) $47000 in restitution.