Karen Loeffler, a United States attorney, declared that Alaska-based company Copper River Campus admitted guilty to the charges of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) for endangering others by negligently releasing dangerous asbestos fibers into the air at its 5th Avenue, Anchorage, property.
Chief federal judge Ralph Beistline ordered the company to pay fines of $70000 and serve 3 years on probation. As a part of his sentence, which was imposed in the beginning of the week, the judge also asked the company to hire an environmental consultant for ensuring that further environmental and safety standards violations won’t take place in the future.
Copper River owns as well as administers the buildings and the property occupied as well as utilized by Copper River Seafoods, situated at 1118 E 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK. The defendant company bought the buildings and the property in year 2009 realizing that the structures had asbestos-containing substances within their walls, floors and ceilings, and that special disposal and handling are required for these materials if the structures have to be torn down or renovated.
After the company bought the properties, and also with the knowledge of presence of asbestos-containing substances in the 2 buildings, Copper River asked an employee to tear down the older structure on the property. It asked other employees to start renovation works on newer building, which included the 1st level flooring. River Campus managers instructed the employee to go ahead with the tearing down process. The employee who carried out the tearing down process didn’t know regarding the presence of asbestos material in the structure.
On 16th March, 2010, as per the direction of River Campus, a River Seafoods staff member used a backhoe for beginning demolition of the older structure without doing anything for wetting down the asbestos materials or for safely removing asbestos-containing substances in the structure. The employee who operated the backhoe had not been given any special training and had not used any protective equipment or safety wears.
The EPA got a call on the very same day, which alerted the agency to the activities of the defendant company. The EPA sent an inspector then to that property. The work was subsequently halted. The dangerous debris from the partly torn-down structure was wetted down.
Before starting the demolition and renovation processes, River Campus failed to inform the EPA regarding the works or regarding the presence of asbestos-containing substances in the 2 structures on that property, according to Loeffler.