Sioux Falls Company Exposes Public to Asbestos
A company renovating a popular lounge in Sioux Falls, South Dakota took action that exposed both workers and the public to asbestos, an investigative report shows.
According to an article in the Argus Leader, the company in question – Hultgren Construction – failed to file legally-required paperwork before removing asbestos from The Copper Lounge, violating both federal and state laws concerning asbestos abatement and disposal.
Instead of following the proper rules, asbestos materials from the lounge’s basement were torn down, placed into “regular” garbage bags, trucked throughout town, and then brought to a city landfill that is not licensed to accept hazardous waste.
Hence, a variety of individuals were exposed to the toxin, from the workers that removed the material to those that unknowingly accepted the trash at the landfill, as well as anyone else who encountered the material along the way.
Thus far, Hultgren has been fined $20,000 for their disregard of the laws, but the company is also under investigation for the role they may have played in the collapse of the building, which occurred after the asbestos was removed.
That collapse killed Ethan McMahon, a Hultgren Construction employee.
“The illegal disposal and removal occurred despite previous correspondence between Hultgren Construction President Aaron Hultgren and DENR regarding asbestos requirements,” notes the newspaper article, which also quotes Chad Babcock, an environmental specialist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who also maintains that the landfill in question had no idea what was in the previously-mentioned bags and “unknowingly accepted” the asbestos.
Records show that at least 380 linear feet of asbestos pipe wrap was likely removed from the Cooper Lounge basement, though the material was gone by the time the DENR came out to inspect the property.
Investigators, however, did spy some remnants of the wrap, all of which were friable and could be crushed or crumbled by hand, which made the material extra dangerous to be around.