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Asbestos Error Costs City Residents $20 M

New York – In year 2005, an inspector from the Department of Environmental (DEP) took a floor tile from an empty Co-op apartment building and sent that to a lab. After testing, the results came out positive for asbestos. It was proved that there were traces of asbestos in the structure, which was almost 40 years old.

The city then ordered to conduct a massive removal and reflooring at 15372 apartments of the building at an expense of US$20 M to the tenants.

However, that remediation work became a waste of time and money for 55000 co-op owners, a lawsuit which is being filed in Bronx Supreme Court says. The suit is being filed for the co-op owners.

The plaintiffs argue 86000 air quality tests carried out thus far indicate no asbestos fibers in the air prior to, during, and after the flooring work. The plaintiffs criticize the fake scare created by the over-enthusiastic city inspectors. They are now asking their money back.

“All the New York City facilities have this adhesive. All the developments of Mitchell-Lama developments have this sort of glue. But, nothing is there in the air and nobody else has been compelled to pay,” Stephen Kaufman, a former Assemblyman, said in a statement. Kaufman is going to represent the tenants’ RiverBay Corporation in the lawsuit against the city.

The precautionary measures for asbestos and its testing cost approximately $4 M every year. This causes 4% increase in maintenance for all owners, according to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit demands apartments of the Co-op city should not be subject to mandatory asbestos abatement and asking for damages. The amount has not been specified.

Since the order for remediation, the job of tiles replacement in one apartment required 6 specialists dressed in full blue hazmat wears, with tents for decontamination arranged in the basement of the complex. There are 35 buildings in the complex.

Kevin Keenan, who supervises all the asbestos abatement projects, said so far none of the maintenance workers has ever become sick from exposure to the tiles in the whole history of the city.

“We have been working in this complex for 4 decades. We do not have any issues and none has been sick or hospitalized from mesothelioma or asbestosis. It is not a health risk. However, the city is putting these rigorous regulations on us,” Keenan said.

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Demolition Company Fined $100000 for Improper Asbestos Removal

Swampscott – A demolition company in Swampscott has been accused of cleaning up and disposing of dangerous asbestos material improperly from various projects, including a Swampscott project, was issued $100000 in civil fines by a Superior Court Judge in Suffolk yesterday.

Total Dismantling & Carting Services and an heir business, called “Total Group,” has to pay US$50000 of the total amount over the coming few years; the pending amount may be suspended for 5 years. If the company avoids violations in the future and abide by a consent judgment, they are needless to pay the balance fines, according to the office of Martha Coakley, the Attorney General.

The civil suit against the business accused that it breached the state Clean Air Act (CAA) and Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA) by removing and improperly disposing of materials containing asbestos over and over again without informing the state DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), which is a must as per regulations.

The firm also did not use adequate containment methods for cleaning up and moving asbestos. Instead, the company took the material to a Revere site for disposing of. The site was not authorized to accept asbestos waste, according to federal prosecutors.

The company has not admitted guilty. It is planning to challenge the allegations of asbestos violations.

Asbestos was a widely used additive in construction materials because of its resistance to heat, corrosion, fire and electricity, and many other useful features. Its hazards became known after the 1970s and then the use of the material became restricted and regulated. Asbestos can cause diseases including cancer if its fibers are breathed in. Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, is incurable so far.

A site where the firm carried out improper work was in Swampscott. But the work’s specific location in Swampscott has not been disclosed.

The other locations where the firm carried out asbestos abatement was old Hook Lobster bldg on waterfront of Boston. The building had been destroyed by a fire in 2008. The landmark building’s remains contained asbestos material, according to federal prosecutors.

“It is particularly vital to take adequate precautions in such a heavy-traveled location like Boston waterfront,” said Coakley. He was talking in a press meeting.

Other breaches were found at Saugus and Malden sites.

The office of the attorney general, together with the Department of Environmental Protection, prosecuted the case.

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Asbestos Victim’s Family Wins $3 M against Crane

Tonawanda, NY – A federal grand jury in Erie County has awarded US$3 M to a deceased GM worker’s family in an asbestos-related case. According to court documents, Gerald Suttner, a former Tonawanda resident, died from occupational asbestos exposure.

Sutter worked with the GM Powertrain Engineering Center for almost 36 years. The court documents say Suttner repaired valves made by Crane Company from year 1964 until 1979. As part of this job, head to remove gaskets containing asbestos – a process that created observable dust.

In 2010 October, Sutter got the shocking pleural mesothelioma diagnosis and he died one year after that when he was 77 years old. Pleural mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer, which is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers.

An Illinois-based law firm, along with some lawyers from a local law firm, represented Suttner’s family that involved his wife and an adult daughter. Crane Company was the defendant in the case.

During the court trial, specialist witnesses gave the testimony that there are no safe levels of asbestos exposure. They assured the grand jury that the exposure to asbestos was the reason for Suttner’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that hazards of asbestos exposure have been well-known since early 1900s. They also argued that Crane Company was aware of those dangers since year 1930.

“However, the firm continued its asbestos use until the 1980s and they failed to place any warnings on their products,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers stated.

Hon. John Lane, the Justice of New York Supreme Court, presided over the 2-week court trial. The grand jury assigned four percent of damages to defendant Crane Company. The remaining amount of money would come from the other responsible parties. They have already settled the case out of court.

After his retirement from GM facility in year 1997, Suttner was helping his wife Mrs. Joann and taking care of his disabled daughter. Suttner was a Shriners organization national officer. He has also served the Shriners Hospital (Erie, PA) as a volunteer. In addition, he has played in a music group, which raised funds for Shriners hospital.

“All through his life, Suttner was very determined to help struggling people even under hard circumstances. It is clear that the jury was sending a powerful message to companies like Crane that the companies which fail to warn workers regarding the hazards of their products will be punished without any excuse,” a plaintiffs’ attorney said.

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Asbestos Kills Former Bridport Cleaner

A former cleaning worker from Bridport (Dorset, UK) died from an asbestos-linked illness, a recent inquest heard.

Dora Longville worked in a public hall in West Midlands County for almost 15 years. The West Walks (W. Bay) woman was 66 years old when he died from malignant mesothelioma.

The inquest into Longville’s death at Dorchester County Hall heard that between years 1990 and 2005 she worked at the Civic Hall in Brierley Hill. Additionally, she worked at a police station that shared the very same building for approximately a year in 1974.

David Longville, Dora Longville’s husband, said when his wife had begun working at the hall, extensive presence of asbestos material was there in that hall and a large quantity of construction work was ongoing while Mrs. Longville was there.

The Metropolitan Borough Council of Dudley has stated that while there is some proof for asbestos-containing substances in the structure, nothing is there to indicate that Longville had been exposed to them.

Sheriff Payne, the Dorset coroner, said that if there is no proof for her exposure to asbestos material outside her job, he would believe that Mrs. Longville had been exposed to the substance during her working time.

Payne said, “I believe that on balance Mrs. Longville definitely had been exposed to dangerous asbestos material during her career. Most probably she had been exposed to the cancer-causing material during her work at both the Brierley Hill Hall and police station.

Payne recorded a death verdict because of a terminal industrial disease.

The use of asbestos in the United Kingdom dates back to 1700. However, it became widespread during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s.

In England, asbestos material is said to be responsible for more than 4000 deaths each year. Youngsters, if regularly exposed to the fibers of asbestos over time, are definitely at more risk of contracting asbestos-linked illness when compared to older workers. The reason is that asbestos diseases usually take decades to develop their symptoms following the exposure to the dangerous material. Mainly, there are 4 diseases that are caused by asbestos exposure. They are mesothelioma (a terminal form of cancer), lung cancer, asbestosis (scarring of lungs, which can be fatal at times), and pleural thickening (thickening of a membrane that surrounds the lungs). The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) website contains detailed information regarding all these diseases.

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Asbestos Discovery Delays Flyover Project

Pascagoula, MS – The finding of asbestos material in a former landfill for storm debris will hold up the work on United States Hwy 90 Overpass Bridge that connects Mississippi Hwy 63 to 611 and avoid railroad tracks.

According to a MS Press report, the supervisors in Jackson County approved a US$2.5 M change order for allowing Tanner Construction Company to go ahead with its excavation and debris haul away works. Tanner Construction is an Ellisville –based, fully integrated heavy construction, highway, and site-development contractor offering construction services mainly within the Mississippi state.

According to engineers, there was more asbestos material than expected initially. The additional work is going to add 80 days or more to the existing contract, says Shane Bergin of Neel-Schaffer.

This change order has to be put forward to the MS Development Authority (MDA) for getting final approval. This is an essential step as the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds have been involved.

The large rd project is funded through state and local grants. It will connect MS 63 to MS 611 and will bypass United States Hwy 90 and CSX railroad. Additionally, it will widen MS 611, or Industrial Rd, to five lanes as far as the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility of Gulf LNG Energy.

The assignment is intended to make the commutes more proficient through the industrial corridor of East Jackson County and to improve railroad crossing safety.

The initial phase – that includes highway construction along Mississippi 63 from the Frederick St South to the Old Mobile Hwy, overpass and realignment work – is ongoing now. The 2nd phase is the construction of five-lane Industrial Rd from the Old Mobile Hwy to the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility.

Any expense that overruns in initial phase will consume the funds of the 2nd phase, leaders declared on Monday. However, the MS Transportation Department (DoT) will have the responsibility to make up any difference.

Approximately $35 M has been reserved for this project. Officials say the initial phase will cost approximately $23 M.

Asbestos discovery is a problem because asbestos is a carcinogenic substance and is linked to a number of terminal diseases and severe respiratory problems. Asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma, and Lung cancer are some fatal diseases linked to asbestos exposure. Because of its hazardous features, asbestos is a highly regulated substance in the United States. Only licensed professionals are allowed to handle asbestos.

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Testing Company Apologized for Asbestos Violations

The asbestos inspection company caught by the South Ayrshire Council (SAC) has apologized for all their mistakes.

Exova bosses have been compelled to regret after the company booted them from job. However, they say the firm, which was fined in a court several months ago for its failure to cleanup asbestos material from a site it owns, does not have any ongoing problem.

A spokesperson for Exova said: “We would like to confirm that the company was given contract early this year for undertaking asbestos survey and testing for the SAC. We are really sorry that, at this particular moment, we failed to meet all the council’s expectations. Being an organization dedicated to the utmost standards in testing, the company treats any such shortcomings seriously.”

Now the company says that it will carry out a quick investigation into the matter.

“Consequently, we are going to conduct a quick review of our business unit that was involved in the work. We will be glad to report to the SAC back as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the company’s earlier prosecution was not related to this matter. He said the prosecution in April was linked to cleanup of asbestos material, and not related to Exova’s testing services.

However, the company was issued a fine of £36,000 and was criticized sharply by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Exova is one of the leading testing companies in the world. Several leading organizations use its service for testing and advising on the safety, performance and quality of their products as well as operations. The company’s services include asbestos inspection as well. It also tests in sectors such as food, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals, construction, fire and aerospace. Exova has operations in 22 countries across the world and it has in excess of 3500 employees worldwide.

The HSE had blasted the testing giant during its court appearance in last April

“Exova unnecessarily and inexplicably opted to put its employees at risk by failing to remove damaged asbestos at its own site,” said Andrew Woodhal, an HSE inspector.

Asbestos is a very dangerous mineral and it can cause terminal diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma if its tiny fibers are breathed in.

In spite of the huge fines and sharp criticism from the HSE, the South Ayrshire bosses awarded Exova another contract that worth £155,000.

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Asbestos Removal at St. Nicholas Church Starts Prior to Demolition

Asbestos material is being cleaned up from former Saint Nicholas Church prior to the tearing down of the historic landmark at Troy Hill. The city representatives, Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese and the State Transportation Department (PA) had met recently for planning this.

Diocese spokesperson Ronald Lengwin says the tearing down hasn’t been scheduled as it’s not known how much time the removal of asbestos would consume. “It will not take place for quite some time,” he said.

When the structure is demolished, there may be lane closures as Route 28 traffic is very close to the gigantic brick structure. Jim Struzzi, a PennDOT spokesperson, said demolition is not likely to clash with the highway construction of the state. “However, the city is responsible to coordinate the flow of traffic past the church building during the demolition,” he said.

The city has granted Saint Nicholas Church the status “historic” in year 2001. After 3 years, the parish consolidated the congregation of Troy Hill and started fighting attempts for saving the historic structure. PennDOT changed its Route 28 expansion for going around building in year 2008. Then the PCH (Preserve Croatian Heritage) Foundation raised $60000 for starting plans to reuse the building as museum.

The PCHF also paid for securing the structure and making minor repairs. The conservationists went from side to side with the parish over the future of the church. The representatives of the parish argued the empty church was a health hazard and it caused them to use the money that is required for the Millvale church’s upkeep.

The preservationists contracted their own research that found out the structure to be sound. A viability study conducted by the group showed that the structure could feasibly be utilized as immigrant museum.

After many suitors gave up the deals for buying the church building, Northside Leadership Conference, supporting the preservationists, offered US$1 for it, awaiting a survey to find out if the hillside was actually stable. However, a judge ruled that the amount is not actually a reasonable return.

Asbestos was an extensively-mined mineral because of its widespread use in the construction and other industries. After the 1980s, the hazards associated with the material became known to the public and its use became restricted and regulated. Exposure to the microscopic fibers of asbestos material can cause incurable diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis.

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Province to Create Website with Information on Asbestos Containing Buildings

Regina – A deceased asbestos victim’s family says that a public registry, which lists buildings of the government that contain asbestos, won’t go far enough. Howard Willems, who was a building inspector, passed away because of an asbestos related cancer on Thursday.

Don Morgan, the Minister of Workplace Safety, said on Tuesday that the province is going to make a website for asbestos information.

“We would like to ensure that working individuals as well as their families learn regarding asbestos material and how to ensure their own safety,” Morgan said.

The list contains court houses, Saskatchewan legislature, and some other government buildings. Perhaps it was for the very first time in the nation that that sort of a list was made public by a province.

Universities, School districts, health areas, municipalities etc. are being motivated for posting their info on the web site created by the ministry.

However, the family of Howard Willems says that the registry is just a start. “It is definitely a very good initial step. However, that is actually all that is. It is an initial step,” said Jesse Todd, the stepson of Willems.

“If you go through what is on their site, they are telling that there won’t be any list for hospitals or schools or for buildings in the health region. That will be just voluntary details given by the people. Such a program is never going to effectively work,” Todd said.

Willems died on Thursday from malignant mesothelioma, a fatal cancer developed by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. When alive, Willems had argued people must know whether they are going into structures containing asbestos, especially when a construction work is being carried out. Willems believed he would definitely have taken necessary steps for protecting himself if he had known regarding the presence of asbestos material in the structures inspected by him.

“We must have a compulsory program where every health region as well as school districts should submit information regarding asbestos-containing buildings,” Willems said before his death.

Two weeks ago, a bill of private member was introduced by opponent NDP in Saskatchewan legislature, which would need information regarding the presence of asbestos in the public buildings to be listed on the website.

Asbestos is a material that is usually found in construction materials like insulation. As long as remain undisturbed, asbestos is not considered a health hazard. However, construction or renovation works can disturb the material and release its fibers into the air. Problem occurs when these fibers are inhaled.

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Asbestos Worries Slow down Concrete Recycling Work

Joliet, IL – Boughton Materials would like to add a recycling unit and concrete crushing to the limestone quarry that it owns. However, those who reside nearby the quarry are concerned of exposure to toxic dust. They believe dangerous asbestos dust could float over the homes. The quarry is situated at Wheatland Township.

They also worry about possible water runoff to the area from the stored concrete. This can contaminate the nearby DuPage River. It will also cause an increase in truck traffic that will mix with Plainfield East High School drivers.

Frank Maly, the Vice President of the company, says the recycling of concrete would be small part of their business. The company is situated at 22750 West Hassert Boulevard. Maly said Boughton Materials would take adequate precautions for preventing environmental problems for the adjacent residential areas. He also ensured that truck traffic won’t increase much. “It would just increase by 5-10 trucks per day,” he said.

However, residents of close by subdivisions are not ready to believe this. During a meeting of the Will County Board Land Use & Development Committee on Tuesday, they objected to the request of the company for a zoning alteration to industrial from agricultural. As the quarry firm is unincorporated, it is the county board which has to decide the zoning issues of the site.

At the final stage of a broad discussion regarding the project, members of the committee decided to give each side more time for reaching a negotiation.

“It does not seem like you have good support here,” Tom Weigel, the Chairman of the committee told Maly.

The planning & zoning commission of the county voted against zoning requests, but the vote of the commission is advisory.

Scott Pointer, the attorney for the company, said that Boughton Materials is open to certain conditions, which would mitigate the concerns of the residents. He said only non-demolition concrete would be taken and, theoretically, they would contain less contaminants.

“We do not want the residents to feel that we are ramming this down their throats,” Pointer said.

The majority of asbestos that may be present in concrete will be sent to proposed reprocessing site.

Mr. Dean Olson, the director of Waste Services of the county, and Maly said that the IL Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had no worries regarding the presence of asbestos material in concrete.

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Retired Electrician Wins $13,227,939 Asbestos Verdict

Last Friday (2nd November, 2012), following a 1-week court trial and several hours of deliberations, a federal jury in San Francisco decided that Kaiser Gypsum Co, a joint compound manufacturer, was guilty in acting with malice or oppression and issued a fine of $6,000,000 in punitive damages. The verdict against Kaiser Gypsum Co as the judge got clear as well as convincing evidence against the company.

On 25th October, 2012, the same company had been punished following a 9-week court trial and more than 2 days of deliberations in a product liability and negligence case. That case also was heard by the same jury. The judging panel determined that the defendant company was negligent. The jury also found that the joint compounds designed by the company contained asbestos and were defective. The company also failed to warn regarding the hazardous feature of its products. The jury issued $507,939 in monetary damages and $6,720,000 in non- fiscal damages. The judging panel assigned five percent liability to the defendant company Kaiser Gypsum. The case was heard in San Francisco County Superior Court.

Court documents say Melvin Desin was suffering from mesothelioma, a fatal asbestos-related cancer, and has been bravely battling the disease. He was diagnosed with the deadly cancer in 2011 April. Mesothelioma is developed as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers, especially because of inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers. It usually affects the lining around the lungs, chest or abdomen.

Desin served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He worked at a lot of commercial buildings and residential sites all through the San Francisco as an electrician between years 1953 and 97. In 1997, he retired from the electrician trade. Desin had to work with products containing asbestos directly. During his job, asbestos products were usually disturbed.

At the trial, the plaintiffs produced evidence indicating that the awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure dates before the 1920s. This knowledge gradually increased and in the 1950s, all industries were well aware of the asbestos hazards, the plaintiffs argued.

“We would like to express our gratitude for the efforts of the jury in the case. We believe they have made the correct decision. Desin is a courageous, strong-willed family man. He really deserves such a ruling. We are happy that he got justice,” said Desin’s Counsel Gilbert Purcell.

The trial started in last August and was overseen by San Francisco County Superior Court judge Suzanne R. Bolanos.

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