It is commonly known that asbestos-containing material, if disturbed or damaged, causes the mineral to become airborne, and those who inhale these fibers run the risk of developing serious lung diseases such as mesothelioma. Recently, millions of pounds of damaged asbestos was found roadside in Frankfort, New Jersey. The piles of deadly material were the result of a scheme among officials at two solid waste disposal companies to dump material illegally for profit. This discovery led to the conviction of the officials and five other men in federal court.
A syracuse.com article reports that when federal and state agents arrived at the hazardous site, the large piles of debris had bicycle tracks running through them. It was clear that innocent, unsuspecting children used the toxic heaps as a biking play area. Our Illinois mesothelioma attorneys are deeply concerned about any harmful health effects that the asbestos piles may have caused the children.
The 28-acre site contained debris from demolished New Jersey homes and other buildings which were passed through an industrial shredding machine without first removing the asbestos. The critical removal is the legal responsibility of the solid waste disposal companies.
Evidence revealed that the criminal dumping of millions of tons of asbestos was initially intended to continue for another five years. Fortunately, a trucker who hauled some of the material observed that it was not a legal landfill and notified authorities. The State Department of Environmental Conservation took immediate action, closing off and covering the lethal site and warning residents to keep their children away from the piles.
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Those involved in the illegal act, including the owner of the property who consented to the dumping, were doing so for profit gain. The companies paid just $53 per ton to illegally dump at the site instead of spending $110 per ton at an approved landfill. The property owner and his two partners received $3 a ton to accept the material.
The site was located in federally protected flood plains and wetlands. If the dumping had continued much longer, the material would have polluted the Mohawk River.
The defendants were found guilty of violating the federal Clean Water Act by depositing 430 tractor-trailer loads of asbestos-tainted matter at the site by the side of the Mohawk River for four months. They were additionally charged with impeding justice and breaching the Superfund law requirement to report the discharge of toxic materials.
Those convicted face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine that may be double the cost to clean up the polluted site.
In related news, a recent Ellwood City Ledger article reported of a lawsuit brought before a court in West Virginia following the diagnosis of an 80-year-old man with mesothelioma. The lawsuit, filed by the man and his wife, named 86 companies in connection with negligence that led to the man, a former worker of a steel producing company, to be exposed to asbestos.
The couple appealed for a jury trial and accused that the companies, either as employers or property owners, were to blame for his mesothelioma. The victim was employed as an electrician/laborer with the steel producer from 1950-1983.
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If you work in an environment that puts you in contact with toxic asbestos, request that the necessary corrective measures are made immediately and contact a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer about bringing a case against those responsible.