The U.S. District Court in Syracuse, N.Y., recently ordered Steven Hunter of Cayuga, N.Y., to serve 41 months in prison and pay $59,700 in restitution to victims of illegal asbestos abatement.
Hunter was previously convicted on seven counts of violating the Clean Air Act. He is the owner of Hunter Heating, Contracting and Plumbing.
While conducting asbestos abatement from December 1997 to March 1998, Hunter failed to notify EPA of an asbestos renovating project, failed to have a certified contractor perform the work, failed to properly wet and bag the asbestos, failed to properly label containers filled with asbestos and failed to dispose of it at a landfill approved for that purpose.
Evidence at trial established that the defendant knowingly sent workers into an asbestos "hot zone" for more than 12 weeks without informing them about the presence of asbestos and without providing them protective equipment.
The improper removal of asbestos can lead to the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers, which can cause lung cancer, a lung disease know as asbestosis, and mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities.
by Virginia Sutcliffe