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READING, Pa. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has settled its case against Reading Hospital and Medical Center, Inc. and asbestos contractor L&L Environmental, Inc., of Coatesville, Pa. for allegedly violating federal asbestos regulations during a 1997 renovation at the hospital.
In separate settlement agreements, Reading Hospital has agreed to pay a $36,000 penalty and L&L Environmental will pay $4,000 to resolve EPA’s May 1998 Clean Air Act complaint.
According to EPA’s complaint, on Sept. 3, 1997, an EPA inspector observed that dry, asbestos-containing fireproofing material remained on ceiling beams on the north section of the hospital E-Building’s fifth floor. According to EPA, the asbestos material remained from L&L Environmental’s asbestos removal activities in that area in June 1997, and the violations continued through Sept. 9, 1997.
Neither party admitted liability in the settlement documents, but both have certified that they are now in compliance with the applicable asbestos regulations.
Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that was once heavily used in insulation and other building materials. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease.
To reduce the risk of asbestos emissions, EPA’s regulations require that asbestos-containing materials that may release asbestos fibers during demolition or renovation must be adequately wetted during removal, and carefully handled to prevent unnecessary damage. These materials must remain adequately wetted, or be securely bagged or otherwise treated to minimize asbestos emissions until disposal.