Five sentenced to jail for illegal asbestos removal

February 3, 2015

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer recently sentenced the owners and managers of salvage operations at a former textile plant in Tennessee to prison, for charges related to illegal asbestos removal.

The defendants were found guilty of conspiring to commit offenses against the Clean Air Act by illegally removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials at the Liberty Fibers Plant in Hamblen County, Tennessee. The plant had been purchased out of bankruptcy by A&E Salvage, where the accused worked, in order to recover the remaining metals in the Liberty Fibers Plant after discounting operations.

Expert testimony in the trial found that A&E Salvage exposed their workers to asbestos, increasing their chances of suffering death or serious bodily injury. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act, any activity involving asbestos or materials that contain it must adhere to strict workplace standards to avoid harm.

The charges against the owners and managers of A&E Salvage state that they engaged in a long-term scheme during which large amounts of asbestos-laced items were removed from the former Liberty Fibers Plant against protocol. They also allegedly disposed of the asbestos using illegal methods and without providing their employees with necessary protection.

The defendants pled guilty to one criminal felony for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act. Each of the five individuals was sentenced to six months in prison, followed by six months of house arrest. The accused will also be required to pay more than $10.3 million in restitution to the EPA Superfund, which was used to clean up the contaminated plant site.

Exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. The EPA has found that any contact with asbestos is dangerous.

If you are working at a site with potentially hazardous material, contact environmental consultants who can help you comply with all governmental regulations as you continue safe operations.