Contractors Arrested for Dumping 5 Tons of Asbestos

05/21/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA //’ rel=’nofollow’>Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma attorneys: Cooney & Conway

In what one official called “a clear message that those who violate state environmental laws will be held accountable for their actions,” two New York contractors were arrested May 5 for illegally dumping more than 5 tons of cancer-causing asbestos debris in an abandoned Buffalo warehouse.

The asbestos reportedly remained hidden for more than a year, until it was discovered by N.Y. Department of Labor regulators.

Robert L. Bishop of East Amherst, owner of Peerless Environmental Control, an asbestos abatement contractor; and Salvatore P. Capizzi of Grand Island, a self-employed demolition contractor were charged with two felony counts.

The arrests were announced by N.Y. Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, whose office had investigated the case in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation.

“People who try to cut corners by illegally dumping harmful materials like asbestos endanger the public and hurt the environment,” Cuomo said in a statement.

For officials in New York and other states, enforcing asbestos-related regulations has been a top priority, because the material—known for its heat- and fire-resistant characteristics and long used in building products like insulation—has been scientifically linked to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, a particularly lethal form of cancer that affects the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs.

Asbestos exposure can also trigger many other forms of cancer, as well as severe conditions like asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs that often causes life-threatening breathing problems.

While the link between asbestos and disease is well known, property owners, contractors, and employers have often been lax in following asbestos regulations or taking protective measures. The result has been not only an increase in asbestos-related disease and death, but a slew of asbestos lawsuits. Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers, in particular, have been successful in obtaining large verdicts and settlements for victims of the cancer, which in almost all cases, is caused by asbestos exposure.

In the Buffalo case, Bishop is charged with collecting thousands of pounds of the cancer-causing waste and storing it in containers at a West Avenue warehouse. After the state Labor Department notified Bishop of an upcoming inspection, he is alleged to have had the asbestos moved to an abandoned building purportedly owned by Capizzi, who, in fact, did not own the property.

The site has since been cleaned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which removed 5 tons of asbestos at a cost of $137,400.

“The alleged reckless and dangerous acts of two individuals put public health and the environment at risk,” said Pete Grannis, state environmental conservation commissioner.

If convicted, Bishop and Capizzi face up to seven years in prison.

This news story is reported by the mesothelioma attorneys at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized firm that has successfully litigated and settled some of the country’s highest profile asbestos lawsuits. For more than 50 years, Cooney & Conway have assisted, and advocated for, those injured by the negligence and wrongful actions of others—including victims of asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.

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