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Winslow, Ariz., fined more than $240,000 for asbestos violations City failed to protect workers, public during apartment demolition

Release Date: 09/17/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov

(9/17/08 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The City of Winslow will pay a $240,400 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of Clean Air Act asbestos provisions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.


    The consent decree, if entered by the Court, would resolve a 2007 complaint against the City of Winslow, former City Administrator John Roche, and former owner William Christie for the improper demolition of nine buildings, collectively known as the Apache Apartments, located on the 1100 block of Apache Avenue. The complaint named John Roche a defendant in the case because of his key role in controlling and supervising the alleged unlawful demolition activities, including the breaking up, collection, transport and burning of asbestos-containing materials.

    “We are glad the City of Winslow is taking responsibility for these serious violations,” said Deborah Jordan, Air Division Director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “These laws protect workers and the public from exposure to friable asbestos, a known carcinogen.”

    In 2002, the City declared the apartment buildings uninhabitable and proceeded to demolish four of the nine buildings. Under federal law, certain demolition activities require prior notification to proper authorities and inspection for asbestos-containing materials. The City failed to conduct such an inspection and also failed to notify the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality of its intent to carry out these activities. Tipped off by local residents, ADEQ inspectors ordered Winslow to cease the demolition, pending an inspection for asbestos-containing materials.

    Follow-up investigations revealed asbestos-containing materials were present in the remaining five buildings at levels which required demolition and disposal to be regulated. Despite the inspection results and instructions from ADEQ on proper demolition and disposal, the City, under John Roche’s supervision, demolished the remaining five buildings and hauled some debris to a City-owned vacant parcel, where it was burned – resulting in additional asbestos release and exposure to workers and the public.

    The proposed Consent Decree, lodged in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, resolves defendants’ alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s National Emission Standard for Asbestos, including:
    failure to notify the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality of asbestos removal activities,
    failure to remove asbestos-containing materials that were susceptible to being broken up during the demolition,
    failure to keep the regulated asbestos-containing materials adequately wet to prevent air-borne fibers,
    failure to ensure that no visible emissions from asbestos-containing waste materials were emitted into the air, and
    failure to keep waste shipment records for all asbestos-containing materials transported off the demolition site.

    Asbestos is classified as a hazardous air pollutant. Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of contracting illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

    For more information on asbestos removal, visit: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/asbestos.html
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