Clean-Air Violations Involving Asbestos Admitted in Kansas

According to report from the Kansas City Star this week, an area retail development project is at the center of a court case stemming from federal Clean Air Act violations. The director of the Community Development Corporation of Kansas City pleaded guilty this week to a role in the environmental issues. The director admitted that the Clean Air Act was violated, as asbestos materials were improperly removed during the demolition of houses, the news source reports. The homes were located at the site of the project, which was planned to be an $85 million retail center. According to the Kansas City paper, criminal charges against the development company were filed back in June 2010. Both the director and president of the development corporation are facing charges which could put them in prison for up to five years with fines of nearly $250,000, the news source reports. With one trial underway, the second is slated to begin on November 28. Within the plea, the Kansas City Star said that employees and other demolition companies on the project were instructed to take care of the demolition process without any knowledge of the asbestos dangers. In the past, asbestos was a popular construction material, though it is now known primarily for its link to debilitating diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. The retail project was called the “Citadel Plaza” site, the news source reports, and was purchased more than a decade ago. The area was home to a planned 35 acre shopping plaza, which was slated to include residential living, restaurants, retailers, and a grocery store. The site of the planned retail plaza has been at the center of controversy for nearly the entire decade after its purchase by the Community Development Corp of Kansas City. In 2006, the Kansas City Star reported that asbestos materials were present on the construction site. Many of the homes which contained asbestos materials were said to have been demolished without any type of asbestos permits. Not only were there issues with possible asbestos violations, but the news source explains the site was home to a shocking amount of litter and building debris left in massive piles. To this day, the site is still littered with debris and has yet to see ground broken. The news source also reports it is at the center of multiple lawsuits. The Kansas City Star reports that the Community Development Corp of Kansas City had previously settled with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources because of asbestos violations. According to the news source, they were required to pay a total of $450,000, which included a $50,000 contribution to an area school fund and another $100,000 on green initiatives. The Kansas City news source reports that the site is not currently viewed as a health risk, but that could change in the future. A proper cleanup will be necessary for any type of future development to take place on the site of the violations, the news source explains.
Reference:
Dillon, Karen. (October 5, 2011) “Developer admits clean-air violations in Citadel Plaza project.” Retrieved on October 6, 2011 from the Kansas City Star.
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