The owner of an apartment complex near Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium has been charged with endangering the lives of others due to actions that prompted the release of asbestos dust during two NFL play-off games in January of 2014.
An article in the Denver Post reports that charges have been brought against Willmax Capital Management Inc. and its director John (Tom) Williams, the owner of Overlook at Mile High Apartments.
The criminal case has been filed with the U.S. District Court in Denver and, if convicted of these infractions, Williams faces a sentence of 12 months in prison and a $100,000 fine, though his lawyer reports he has entered a plea agreement with the EPA.
The company could be fined as much as a half-million dollars.
“John Tom Williams negligently released asbestos into the ambient air and at the time thereby negligently placed other persons in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury…and John Tom Williams aided, abetted, commanded, procured and willfully caused the same,” according to court documents.
Specifically, he was charged with failing to “thoroughly inspect the parts of the facilities where the activity would occur for the presence of asbestos.”
The release occurred during renovations at the large complex. Specifically, contractors were sanding floors at two of the towers. Asbestos was present in the floors, though no specifics were provided in the article.
Floor tiles may have contained asbestos or contractors may have encountered asbestos-containing mastic, the glue that adheres tiles and other products to a sub-floor.
Overlook at Mile High is within walking distance of both Mile High Stadium and Pepsi Center. The latter is home to the NBA Denver Nuggets and the NHL Colorado Avalanche.
It’s also close to the 16th Street Mall and Auraria Campus, a higher education center that includes the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and University of Colorado at Denver.
As such, the asbestos dust may have reached thousands of individuals, though it’s difficult to predict how far it traveled and what the concentration may have been.
Willmax’s lawyer, Richard Kornfield, says the company is doing everything they can to make the situation right again, though they certainly can’t reverse the asbestos exposure.
He says they have no direct information that anyone has suffered any harm and have agreed to medical monitoring in the meantime. Unfortunately, however, asbestos-caused diseases usually take decades to surface, so the truth may not be evident for quite some time.
Kornfield added that the company has already spent about $1 million to remediate the asbestos release fiasco. So far, they have paid substantial settlements to apartment owners and have spent money to train employees as to how to recognize asbestos and how to deal with the hazard should they encounter it on the job.