A Chico, California, businessman found out the hard way that the improper disposal of asbestos can be costly. Meanwhile, his neighbors face uncertainty as to whether their lives were endangered by potential exposure to the toxic mineral illegally dumped near their residences. Prosecutors contended that the asbestos was disposed of in a way that would cause its fibers to become airborne, threatening nearby homes.
Richard E. Parks, 71, pleaded guilty on June 11 to two felony charges of transporting hazardous material without a proper permit, improper disposal of hazardous materials and the misdemeanor of endangering a state waterway. He will serve 120 days in jail and pay a $100,000 fine after transporting asbestos from commercial buildings he owned to his residential property where he attempted to bury it. Evidence also existed that Parks had been illegally dumping asbestos for years.
Asbestos fibers threatened neighbors
A nearby resident tipped off authorities in February 2020 that a man – later identified as Parks — dumped suspicious waste on his own property.
A warden from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife contacted Parks, who was in the middle of disposing the contents of a dump truck into a newly dug hole on his property. When the warden noticed that many bags contained the label “asbestos,” he contacted criminal investigators.
In addition, investigators found at least one other spot on the property where Parks dumped asbestos many years earlier. After testing the bags, scientists determined that they contained asbestos. Authorities later locked down Parks’ property.
Authorities also ordered Parks to have the asbestos removed by an environmental cleanup company, which completed the task months later at a cost of $230,000. Parks also must pay all fees related to the testing of neighboring properties.
Someone like Parks clearly understood the dangers of asbestos and had a blatant disregard for the lives and safety of others. As much as we educate the public about asbestos and the health risks it causes, we still have scofflaws like Parks. We must continue to get the word out.