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Federal convictions for asbestos abatement violations upheld

This week we note that the geographic impact of asbestos contamination knows no bounds and a similar report from Chattanooga of two men who were convicted of similar violations of federal laws during the demolition of a textile mill. The men had appealed their convictions, but the federal court of appeals upheld the trial court findings of guilt.

While the men challenged their convictions of the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of their violations, the court of appeals noted, "ample evidence exists…that Fillers knowingly acted with others to unlawfully remove asbestos from the site."

Properly done, asbestos abatement is expensive. And so, many people follow the example of the companies that sold the asbestos in the first place, and did not want to lose sales or revenue by warning customers of the danger posed by asbestos.

Those involved in remodeling or demolition want to maximize their profits by cutting corners and skimping of safety, both for their workers and those who come in contact with the site or where the asbestos-contaminated debris is disposed.

Ironically, as the number of buildings built during the period of the greatest use of asbestos come to the end of their useful life, we may see the number of cases like this rise. When a building is in use and is well maintained, much of the asbestos is encapsulated and poses a limited threat.

But when the building has fallen into disuse and disrepair, and the demolition is performed by a lowest-bid contractor, the risk of asbestos exposure may rise exponentially.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Tennessee Appeals Court Upholds Asbestos Convictions," Lucas L. Johnson II, December 31, 2013

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