Recent news from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informs us that Duane O'Malley, previously charged with Clean Air Act violations, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine (approximately €12,300).
Moreover, the culprit is expected to return EPA the money spent for cleaning up the asbestos he released into the air: $47,086 (€38,585).
Jim Lewis from the Central District of Illinois explained how, “To increase his profits, a jury found that O'Malley knowingly disregarded federal environmental laws that require asbestos-containing materials be safely removed and properly disposed.”
He further argued that, “This sentence is a consequence of the defendant's flagrant disregard for his workers, the public, and the environment in exposing them to dangerous airborne asbestos fibers.”
While reporting on these events, EPA
's official website also informs us that, although asbestos is intensely used in constructions, those working with it need to be extremely careful when handling it.
This is because, once inhaled, it can severely impact on an individual's lungs, and may even cause health conditions such as cancer and mesothelioma (i.e. a very particular type of cancer known to be caused precisely by exposure to asbestos).
Because he failed in properly managing the asbestos released into the air during construction activities, Duane O'Malley endangered both the health of his workers, and the wellbeing of people living close to the building site.
Apparently, Duane O'Malley is all the more guilty as he agreed to working with asbestos without having any proper training in this type of activity.
Thus, his company, Origin Fire Protection, was commission by Michael J. Pinski to remove asbestos-containing insulation from pipes, but nobody bothered to check if said company had the proper qualification to do the job.
Seeing that EPA did not lose any time in making Duane O'Malley pay for his violations of the Clean Air Act, we hope that others will also start paying more attention to how their activities impact on the environment and on public health, it not out of civic responsibility, then perhaps to avoid a similar fate.