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Region 3 News Release
News Release
  • For Immediate Release: August 23, 1999
  • Federal Grand Jury Indicts Contractor for Asbestos Violations at Fairfax County, Va. Elementary School
    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A federal grand jury indicted Paul T. Potter, vice president of a licensed asbestos contracting company, on two counts of violating the Clean Air Act in connection with the removal of floor tile from an elementary school in Fairfax County, Va.

    The grand jury charged Potter, of Vienna, Va., with failing to dispose of the removed asbestos-containing floor tile as soon as practical at an authorized location and with failing to notify EPA about the removal of the floor tile at the Mantua Elementary School.

    According to the August 12 indictment, Fairfax County hired Potter’s firm, Chelsea Environmental Corp., in April, 1996 to remove asbestos floor coverings from three schools. The contract required CEC to submit any required notifications to EPA; however, Potter allegedly did not notify the agency prior to performing the work. During the summer of 1996, CEC allegedly removed approximately 6,500-square-feet of floor tile and a equal amount of mastic from Mantua. CEC workers allegedly used a mechanical chipper, chisels and hammers to break up the tile in order to remove it.

    After removing the tile, CEC employees allegedly placed the asbestos waste into garbage bags and stored them in a rented trailer. In August 1996, Potter allegedly arranged to store the trailer in Lorton, Va., on a monthly rental basis. CEC employees allegedly took the trailer and asbestos waste to that location in August 1996, after completing the Fairfax County contract, where it remained even though Potter only paid rent through January, 1997. In December, 1997, federal and state personnel discovered more than 1,000 bags of waste in black garbage bags in the trailer, with floor tiles protruding from some bags. Fairfax County paid to dispose of the waste.

    This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI. Sampling and analytical assistance was provided by the regional Environmental Services Division and EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center in Denver..

    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, which 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, securely bagged or otherwise treated to minimize asbestos emissions until disposal.