This week, the Washington State attorney general has filed five felony charges against an asbestos removal company for lying about asbestos abatement work and the disposal of toxic asbestos materials.
The accused, Timothy Powell of Cashmere, Washington, faces up to five years in prison for his infraction of asbestos laws. There’s no accounting for how many people were exposed to toxic asbestos due to his negligence.
The Seattle Medium reports that Powell and his business, A1 Asbestos LLC, are accused of submitting false records regarding the shipment of hazardous asbestos waste to a landfill in Okanogan County, Washington. (Not all landfills accept toxic waste, including asbestos.)
Powell appears to have forged signatures on one of the shipping documents called into question. Disposing of asbestos-containing waste is more expensive than disposing of normal non-toxic waste, which is likely the reason for Powell’s indiscretions.
“The false documents allegedly allowed Powell and his business to avoid some of the costs of asbestos disposal by combining asbestos waste from multiple job sites and only paying one disposal fee,” the article points out.
In addition, the business owner is being accused of providing false statements to the Department of Labor and Industries about the start dates of certain asbestos abatement projects.
It is believed that this was done in order to avoid inspections by the state. Avoiding inspection allegedly allowed Powell to take shortcuts in regards to the proper removal of asbestos at the sites in question.
“Strict rules governing the disposal of asbestos waste exist to protect workers and the public, and they must be followed,” state State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, adding that Powell could face not only a prison sentence for this negligence but also steep fines and restitution charges.
Not mentioned in the article are those who are employed by A1 Asbestos LLC, who may have been unnecessarily exposed to asbestos. Chances are that Powell – and others who run similar companies with shoddy practices – may take shortcuts with employee safety as well.
If the workers are using improper methods to remove asbestos – as is inferred by the charges – they may be inhaling asbestos fibers on-the-job.
In addition, if workers are not being properly protected and provided with equipment to avoid exposure, they may be inhaling asbestos dust and fibers, which could result in the formation of an asbestos-related disease years from now.
This could include mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos.
Stories such as this one pop up in newspapers around the country, with business owners looking for ways to save money and putting workers in danger due to those penny-pinching practices.
Workers who have been exposed to asbestos on the job have the right to seek legal action against their employees, especially if they find they are suffering from an asbestos-related disease.