Three men who were charged with violation of federal environmental crimes related to the asbestos cleanup of the former Castle Air Force Base were convicted and could be sentenced to two years on prison for the violations. The three were former executives of a now closed nonprofit Firm Build.
The men could have faced up to five years in prison and $250,000 fine for violations of National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Act (NESHAPS) involving unlawful abatement of asbestos-containing materials. While this conduct was illegal, and exposed their employees to potential asbestos, they also used high school students from the Workplace Learning Academy for demolition work in the buildings
The high school students were used to remove 260 feet of pipe insulation and other insulation in the buildings that contained asbestos. For these violations, they could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for knowing endangerment of another person.
The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case said, “Environmental crimes that can have an adverse impact on human health are particularly deserving of prosecution.”
One has to wonder that they were thinking when they exposed high school students to asbestos-laden insulation. The reason demolition of property containing asbestos is so strictly regulated is to prevent just this type of scenario.
Many of the buildings on the former airbase date from the 1940 and 1950, when asbestos was used in many building materials, from pipe insulation to ceiling and floor tiles, to siding and drywall.
We can only hope that none of the high school students inhaled asbestos dust that could trigger mesothelioma 20 to 30 years from now.
Source: The Modesto Bee, “Three guilty in asbestos cleanup violation at former Castle base,” A. Patton, March 12, 2013