Michigan Taking Action Against Asbestos Abatement Companies

Government at the federal and state level in Michigan are taking action against companies assigned to remove asbestos from abandoned buildings after it was discovered the work they performed was shoddy and not up to code. The effort comes in response to numerous botched removal jobs, one of which occurred at the Utica Trim Automotive Plant in Shelby Township, MI in 2010. The investigation at the plant showed site conditions were abysmal and workers were unnecessarily put at risk. In addition to working with faulty equipment and wearing thin disposable suits, they were subjected to daily quotas and their jobs were threatened if those quotas were not met. The owner of the property, Indiana LLC, located in Chicago, recently agreed to pay nearly $70,000 in penalties. Additionally, Northern Boiler and Mechanical Contractors of Muskegon will be paying $30,000 to the state and four men have been charged criminally in the case. It's too soon to tell whether those working at the Utica plant will suffer any long-term health effects because lung disease from asbestos exposure typically take a decade or more to develop. Shelby Township One of Many Instances of Shoddy Asbestos Removal In addition to the Shelby Township case, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), working in conjunction with the federal government, are punishing contractors and property owners for violating the Clean Air Act with improper asbestos removal from buildings scheduled to be demolished. Since 2011, heavy fines have been levied and 11 men have been convicted or pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to improper asbestos removal. Five received prison sentences. Other asbestos removal cases include:
  • Terry Williams sentenced to 27 months in prison after pleading guilty to removing asbestos-containing materials from a former Chrysler plant in Detroit without wetting it in order "…to avoid the more costly cleanup and demolition required under federal law."
  • Anthony Michael Davis sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay more than $168,000 after scrapping metal from a former paper mill in Allegan County in west Michigan without wetting the asbestos, exposing his employees and the public to the dangerous dust and leaving taxpayers holding the bill for cleanup.
  • Roy Bradley convicted of failing to wet asbestos during demolition work at a former church. The case also included a carpenter charged with lying about the asbestos removal to a federal grand jury.
  • Michigan State University and its contractors Qualified Abatement Services fined more than $13,000 for violations involving an underground steam tunnel insulated with asbestos.
  • The Ingham County Land Bank and its contractors fined more than $22,000 for improper asbestos removal at the former Michigan School for the Blind in Lansing.
References:
  • http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2014/12/27/asbestos-abatement-michigan-deq-enforcement/20928351/
  • https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos/
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