06/23/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma attorneys: Cooney & Conway
(Mesothelioma News) Following a four-year investigation, Marco Island, Fla., and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed June 8 to a settlement in an asbestos-handling case.
The investigation has examined how Quality Enterprises, one of the city’s contractors, handled pipe containing asbestos. The settlement agreement will be in lieu of formal enforcement actions against Marco Island and Quality Enterprises, which will have to pay an $81,000 fine.
Previously, the EPA had accused the two parties of six violations of the Clean Air Act—all related to improper asbestos handling while widening and adding sewer lines on Marco Island beginning in 2005. The EPA’s chief of chemical products and asbestos, Curt Fehn, had submitted a report on March 25 to then-Marco Island City Manager Steve Thompson, outlining the agency’s findings, which included:
• “Improper inspection of the area containing asbestos;
• Failure to remove asbestos before disturbing or breaking up the material;
• Failure to have a person on staff trained in asbestos regulations;
• Failure to dispose of the asbestos “as soon as practical.”
Marco Island and Quality Enterprises were also accused of not providing notice and failing to wet the material as required by asbestos regulations.
Asbestos—long used as a building material before its health risks became widely known—has been scientifically linked to deadly diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a nearly always fatal cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs.
Asbestos risks run particularly high in renovation and demolition work, because the material can be easily disturbed and released into the air. Asbestos fibers inhaled by workers or nearby individuals can trigger mesothelioma and other diseases many years, and even decades, after exposure.
Failure to provide adequate protection, warning, or a safe working environment has been the basis of many asbestos lawsuits. Over the years, mesothelioma lawyers have been successful in obtaining large settlements and verdicts against defendants who knew or should have known of asbestos risks but did little, or nothing, to protect others.
According to the settlement agreement—expected to become official in the coming days or weeks—Marco Island will pay no fines, but Quality Enterprises must pay an $81,772 penalty. According to the settlement, neither party will be required to admit guilt.
The chairman of the Marco Island City Council, Frank Recker, said that the contractor’s being required to pay the fine represented a significant success for the city.
“It was Dr. [interim City Manager Jim] Riviere’s and my mission to get the world to understand we didn’t think the city was financially responsible for anything,” said Recker.
The agreement follows demands by city residents—worried about lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other risks of asbestos exposure—to investigate how the hazardous material was handled. As part of the settlement, the EPA must “affirm that the jobsite was properly cleaned of all asbestos”.
“I’m happy,” said Riviere. “Our playgrounds are clear as certified by the EPA. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
This news article was brought to you by the asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway, a nationally recognized law firm that has brought recovery—and justice—to victims of asbestos exposure and the deadly diseases it can cause. For over half a century, we have been advocates and champions for those injured by the wrongful acts of others and have successfully resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits.
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