Colorado Man Indicted for Triggering Asbestos Emergency
Colorado (Mesothelioma News) – Pretending to be a certified asbestos inspector in order to obtain employment, a Colorado man improperly performed air testing and falsified lab results, a Colorado grand jury said on April 15.
The state grand jury charged that his actions contributed to the release of dangerous asbestos particles and threatened “immediate and irreparable harm” to local residents.
Asbestos-whose resistance to heat, electrical, and chemical damage made it a widely used building material before links to deadly diseases, including cancer, were discovered-is hazardous when airborne.
Inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a particularly lethal cancer of the lining covering many of the body’s organs. While it can take decades after asbestos exposure to develop, mesothelioma is almost always fatal.
The asbestos in Colorado-present in a mobile home park in the city of Elizabeth-consisted of enough material to fill 55 one-gallon drums, state officials said.
The man indicted, Michael Merit, 45, had worked as an asbestos inspector for a demolition company, the Resource Center, between November 2007 and late January 2008. The indictment alleges that Merit had lied about his qualifications in order to secure a position with the company.
During Merit’s employment, the indictment states, one of his primary responsibilities was testing for asbestos at the mobile home park in Elizabeth. The grand jury contends that he incorrectly took air samples-performing the wrong tests-and then falsified lab results to state that no asbestos was present in any of the homes.
Merit then allegedly gave the lab results to colleagues at the Resource Center and falsely signed a demolition permit application that was submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Relying on the fraudulent information, the department issued the permit. Three mobile homes were demolished before state officials halted the work, based on a tip that the homes did, indeed, contain asbestos.
Colorado officials conducted follow-up testing, which uncovered more than 160 square feet of asbestos- containing material at the mobile home park-enough to classify the discovery as an “emergency circumstance involving the sudden discharge of a hazardous substance,” threatening the health of nearby residents.
Prosecutors from Colorado’s Office of the Attorney General plan to present their case in Elbert County District Court.
This news was reported by the asbestos litigation attorneys at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized law firm that has brought recovery-and justice-to victims of mesothelioma and other deadly diseases resulting from asbestos exposure.
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