Boise, Idaho – A former building overseer convicted of improperly handling pipes covered with dangerous asbestos at the time of a renovation of the municipal water & sewer system of Orofino 4 years ago was sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment.
The punishment was handed down by United State District Court Judge Hon. Edward Lodge on Wednesday. Douglas Greiner, an Eagle resident and a former employee of Boise, Idaho-based Owyhee Construction Incorporated, was the plaintiff in the case. Greiner is 53 years old. He apologized in court for all his unlawful acts that could’ve put many into the risk of asbestos exposure.
As part of his deal with federal prosecutors, Greiner admitted guilty to a count of breaching work place standards under the CAA (Clean Air Act). According to federal investigators, Greiner did not follow the procedures for cleaning up the asbestos-covered pipe. Additionally, the investigators say, Greiner illegally dumped the hazardous material at 16 various locations around the town.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in and spent in excess of US$3.9M for cleaning up the waste disposal sites.
EPA’s criminal investigation is still underway. The agency’s investigation is mainly focused on Owyhee Construction’s executives.
United States Environment and Natural Resources Division’s acting assistant attorney general Robert G Dreher said criminal activities like that would endanger all the workers and also the public. It can also cost millions of dollars to the federal government, as what happened here, he said.
Asbestos exposure is injurious to health. It can cause several health problems and diseases and some of them are fatal. Asbestos exposure can cause cancers like malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer. Mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the mesothelium (a membrane of flat cells which lines the body cavity of embryos and forms the covering cells of the pleura, pericardium, and peritoneum) cannot be cured. It kills victims usually within a year or 2.
Though asbestos is a highly regulated substance now, asbestos exposure still continues, especially during building renovation, maintenance and demolition, according Dr. Barry Castleman, an Environmental Consultant trained in chemical & environmental engineering. Castleman says asbestos exposure takes place during the repairing of automotive brakes as well.
The Environmental Protect Agency had finalized a phase-out & ban rule for asbestos in year 1989. A lawsuit was filed by the asbestos industry against the rule and it was overturned in 1991. Though there are strict regulations regarding asbestos handling, its use is not illegal in the United States in certain applications.