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EPA Orders Scranton-area Property Owner to Comply with Asbestos Cleanup Regulations

Release Date: 12/06/2010
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (December 6, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the owner of an abandoned factory known as the Hillcrest Building, located on the 500 block of Hillcrest Drive, Old Forge, Pa., to comply with asbestos cleanup regulations.

The building’s owner, Walter Stocki, of Old Forge, Pa., allegedly violated the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos by demolishing portions of the Hillcrest Building without taking precautions to minimize the airborne release of asbestos.

EPA ordered Mr. Stocki to secure the site and cease all activities that might cause further release of asbestos fibers; ensure that the building and exterior dumpster are sealed; and post warning signs around the building until a cleanup is performed. The order also directs Mr. Stocki to submit to EPA a work plan within seven days.

Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that was once heavily used in insulation and other building materials. Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older buildings and homes, in pipe and furnace insulation materials, asbestos shingles, millboard, textured paints and other coating materials, and floor tiles.

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur after asbestos-containing materials are disturbed by cutting, sanding or other construction activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living and working in those buildings.

Prolonged exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease.

In June and August, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection conducted two inspections and issued two notices of violation to Mr. Stocki for violating asbestos regulations by demolishing, without proper notice or precautions. EPA conducted a follow-up inspection on Nov. 17 and confirmed that the property was still contaminated with asbestos.

For more information on asbestos and its regulation, visit http://www.epa.gov/oppt/asbestos/index.html.