Three defendants plead no contest to state charges last week on felony charges stemming from their business exposing at-risk teens to asbestos-contaminated materials on a building demolition site. Back in March, they were sentenced in federal court to violating federal environmental standards. Their sentencing in that case is set for June and they could receive up to 27 month in a federal prison.
The trio pleaded no contest to “felony treating, handling or disposing of asbestos in a manner which caused an unreasonable risk of serious injury to the nine students, with knowing or reckless disregard for the risk.” As you may recall, the three had run a business, ostensibly for the purpose of providing training in the building trades for at-risk high school students.
In 2005-2006, the students were actually used to remove pipe insulation contaminated with asbestos from almost 1,000 feet of pipe and from a building located in the former Castle Air Force Base, which is now the Castle Commerce Center.
Buildings of this vintage usually contain asbestos-laden materials, and demolition or remodeling must be done with care and in accordance with state and federal asbestos abetment regulations to prevent the workers and others from inhaling deadly asbestos fibers, which cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.
The District Attorney on the case noted the defendants failed to provide proper equipment and protection to the kids because they were seen as “at risk” and not worthy of protection. Anyone working on old buildings should ask if asbestos testing has been performed prior to work and report violations to the proper authorities.
Source: Merced Sun-Star, “Firm Build defendants plead no contest in asbestos case,” A. Patton, May 17, 2103