Tuesday, September 8th, 2009.
Coldfoot Environmental Services, Inc., an asbestos abatement and demolition contractor in Anchorage, Alaska, has agreed to pay a $5,100 penalty and perform a community service project to settle with EPA for alleged violations of the asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (asbestos NESHAP), under the Clean Air Act.
In August 2007 and April 2008, EPA conducted asbestos compliance inspections at three Alaska demolition sites: Harborview Hospital and Public Warehouse #2 in Valdez, and the Subport Building in Juneau. The results of those inspections found that Coldfoot failed to update their written notices when the official start dates had changed, making it more difficult for EPA’s inspector to arrive at the right time to observe the projects. At the hospital job site in Valdez, the contractor expanded the project to include an additional 75,000 square feet of regulated asbestos debris in the crawlspace, again without updating the notice to EPA.
In addition to paying the fine, Coldfoot will perform a Supplemental Environmental Project valued at $14,800. The project requires Coldfoot to remove asbestos insulation from a boiler and piping in a building owned by a local nonprofit theater group located in Anchorage, Alaska. The theater group lacks funds to safely remove the asbestos.
“We hope that asbestos demolition contractors like Coldfoot learn from this situation,” said Marcia Combes, director of EPA’s Alaska Operations Office. “When you are tearing down or renovating a structure that has asbestos, it is important to notify EPA so we have timely and accurate information to conduct our inspections and ensure contractors are following the asbestos regulations.”
Federal regulations require a thorough inspection of a facility for the presence of asbestos prior to any demolition or renovation activity, as well as advance notice to EPA or the state or local agency that administers the asbestos NESHAP program. If a threshold amount of asbestos is found, contractors are required to remove and dispose of the material according to certain requirements such as using water to wet the asbestos during removal, carefully handling, bagging and labeling of wastes, and properly disposing of them at permitted landfills.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber which was commonly used in building materials prior to the 1980s due to its fire resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos can lead to respiratory diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. Owners and operators of a demolition or renovation activity are legally required to remove, handle and dispose of asbestos according to federal regulations.
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