Asbestos Suit: Michigan Authorities Against Demolition Crew

In the last few weeks, the State of Michigan has cited three contractors for asbestos-related violations, in regards, to the demolition of a Saginaw, MI plant and filed an asbestos suit. The plant was most recently operated by TRW Automotive company, which made parts for General Motors (GM) vehicles, and now is in the process of being demolished.

Asbestos Used For Decades In Industrial Buildings

Asbestos is classified into six different mineral fibers that reside in the earth. All of these mineral fibers are carcinogenic. In the past, asbestos a common resource used for industrial applications and commercial building products for decades. Asbestos particles once disturbed or broken away from its solid or natural state become harmful. Asbestos exposure can cause lung disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma cancer.

New Owner Renovates And Demolishes Part Of The Plant

The parts manufacturer, TRW, closed its doors in 2014, and the property was purchased by Applied Partners, Inc., a few years later. Applied Partners, is a West Virginia based company, that buys old factories or structures usually found in industrial areas, and then capitalizes by demolishing, salvaging, remodeling, renovation, or reselling the properties’ assets. Applied Partners Saginaw, LLC, is also coordinated with the West Virginia based company, as the new owner, and one of the three contractors cited for asbestos-related violations.

Contractors Cited For Asbestos Violations in Asbestos Suit

According to authorities, Applied Partners Saginaw, LLC, violations coincide with Greene Environmental Services, LLC, a Michigan environmental contractor, hired by Applied Partners, to perform asbestos abatement remediation at the Saginaw facility. The State of Michigan Department Of Environment, Great Lakes, And Energy cited both entities for failure to: provide a 10-day notification for asbestos-related renovation work; failure to estimate the amount of Regulated Asbestos Containing Material (RACM); and failure to remove the RACM. The state claims in the asbestos suit, in summary, that Applied Partners is just as responsible as their asbestos abatement contractor for failure to abide by Asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) provisions.

Asbestos National Emission Standards For Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Purpose

The Asbestos NESHAP regulates any demolition or renovation operation at an institutional, commercial or industrial building. At a minimum, the thorough inspection requirement applies. Complying with these regulatory requirements generally involves work practice standards to ensure asbestos-contained materials are safely removed before they can be exposed to the site environment.

An effective asbestos abatement under these regulations must be done to at least start the process of demolishing or renovating commercial facilities. These regulatory requirements were established under the Clean Air Act and ensure that demolition or renovation plans involve a standard work process for the prevention of dangerous pollutants, including asbestos. If these standards are not complied with, it makes way for an asbestos suit.

Demolition Contractor And Owner Cited By State Environmental Authorities

The demolition contractor performing the work was RJ Industrial, LLC, another Michigan contractor, operating out of Flint, MI. The enforcement order in the asbestos suit cited the contractor with Asbestos NESHAP violations of allegedly: –

-failing to provide notification prior to demolition,

-failure to wet (RACM) that had been stripped, failure to remove RACM,

-failure to contain RACM in a leak-proof container

– failure to wet RACM during the demolition process

– failure to have a properly trained supervisor onsite, failure to deposit asbestos-contained waste material as soon as practically possible

-and allowed visible emission of asbestos during handling operations.

Owner Explains Consent Agreement Is In No Way An Admission Of Guilt

In response, Mark Cenit, spokesman for Applied Partners, Inc., explains the agreement to pay the consent order or fined amount is not a notion of an admission of guilt. He explained that the demolition crews found the asbestos-contained materials while tearing down a part of a powerhouse. As part of the process, work stopped immediately, the authorities contacted, and testing began. The tests showed the material to be asbestos, and upon discovery, the ACM material was cleaned up within three weeks, according to Cenit.

On the other hand, the spokesman went on to say that the age and size of the building can sometimes cause issues. He explained  GM did not keep detailed documentation of renovations or records that are supposed to be lawfully passed down from one owner to the other, in regards, to building codes or asbestos contained material quantities. According to Cenit, the demolition crews are having to pay for oversights from the past practices of GM. “We did what we were supposed to do. We cleaned it up, and now you are fining me.”

Department of Environment, Great Lakes, And Energy Consent Order

The Consent Order constitutes a civil settlement and satisfaction as to the resolution of the violations specifically addressed herein; however, it does not resolve any criminal activity that may result from these same violations, as stated in the order. Concerning companies who were allegedly involved with violating asbestos handling measures, all three companies have agreed to comply with the resolution said, but maintain they are not guilty of criminal acts.

As part of the resolution for addressing these violations handed out by the State of Michigan, all companies will agree to the consent order terms laid out by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, And Energy, and pay the allotted amounts of $35,000 by Applied Partners, and $13,500 as RJ Industrial, LLC’s portion. 

Trucking Contractor Will Pay $12,000

Also, the transport or hauling contractor, Messaros Trucking, Inc., out of Ohio, was cited for two violation notices, centering on failure to deposit asbestos contained waste material as soon as practically possible. Also, the company allegedly did not have a properly trained contractor or supervisor on site.

For compliance, with Asbestos NESHAP provisions, a company is generally required to haul ACM in a sealed leak-tight container while wet, the container must also be appropriately labeled, and disposed of properly at a qualified landfill. The transport vehicles must also record all waste shipments involving the material.

After the allegations, the trucking company agrees to pay their portion allotted from the consent order, which is in the amount of around $12,000. They also have not indicated any wrongdoing or criminal act, but confidently intend to apply with the terms for resolution in the consent order issued by environmental authorities.

Asbestos Exposure In Demolition Or Renovation

Asbestos exposure is harmful to your health. One specific illness that is caused exclusively by asbestos is mesothelioma cancer. When asbestos become inhaled or swallowed the particles can settle in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Over time, they can buildup and develop into onset mesothelioma. The latency period of this dormant cancer could take over 30 years even to show up. If you or a loved one have ever worked in demolition construction or industrial settings and are possibly suffering from the harmful effects of asbestos exposure, please call an experienced asbestos or mesothelioma attorney.

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