Throughout the country, building and renovation companies who seem to have little regard for public health or the health of their employees continue to take short cuts that put those individuals at risk for exposure to toxic substances, including asbestos.
The latest case to come to the attention of the authorities was in Spokane, Washington, where a negligent corporation performing renovations at a hotel left dangerous asbestos products out in the open for months at a time.
According to a press release by the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, 2013 Investors LLC, along with the company’s owner and an employee, will be ordered to pay $115,000 in restitution for their shoddy workmanship and the actions that left a neighborhood concerned about the possibilities of one day developing an asbestos-related disease.
The authorities say the money will be used to educate the public about asbestos and to train workers and employers about asbestos awareness.
The two defendants, company owner Dayabir Bath and employee Gee Grewal, were also sentenced to two years of probation for their actions. A third man involved with the company is already serving 60 days in prison for his role in the debacle.
The infractions that occurred date back to 2013-2014, when the Kent, Washington-based company was performing extensive renovations on the 89-room Spokane House Hotel.
Not only did 2013 Investors LLC not obtain the proper permits or asbestos surveys for the job but, on two occasions, left asbestos-containing materials in the open air, where they were sometimes subject to 40-mile-per-hour winds that allowed asbestos dust to circulate through the area.
Employees and those who live in a nearby residential neighborhood may have been victims of asbestos inhalation due to this negligence, officials point out.
“Any business or individual conducting demolition or renovation of a structure must do so properly to reduce risk of asbestos exposure,” stressed Julie Oliver, executive director of the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. “An uncontrolled release of asbestos fibers is a health hazard proven to cause lung cancer and other illnesses.”
The current attorney general of Washington State, Bob Ferguson, has been tough on those who commit environmental crimes and has pursued others like Bath and Grewel, resulting in 19 convictions for such crimes in the last 3 years.
While his diligence is noted, the crimes committed by companies like 2013 Investors LLC are often not caught or caught too late to reverse the damage already done.
Once an individual inhales asbestos, even if it’s only a small amount, they become a candidate for developing diseases such as mesothelioma, a cancer for which the only known cause is exposure to asbestos.
It can take as much as 50 years for mesothelioma to develop so anyone exposed at this time may be surprised by such a diagnosis later in life.
While it is true that those who suffer regular exposure to asbestos dust are those most likely to develop the disease, the American Cancer Society and other agencies have determined that NO amount of exposure is safe.