Springfield, Illinois - A man who illegally removed, handled, and disposed of asbestos during work at a Kankakee, Illinois building site last year has been sentenced to a prison term of 10 years, clearly indicating that the federal government aims to crack down on individuals who’ve decided that the rules of asbestos handling don’t apply to them.
According to an article by the Associated Press, Duane "Butch" O'Malley of Bourbonnais, age 59, will serve his term in a federal prison since his actions represented violations of the federal Clean Air Act. O’Malley has also been ordered to pay in excess of $47,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency as reimbursement for their clean-up costs at the site, and will be paying an additional $15,000 fine for his disregard of state and federal asbestos handling laws.
According to an account of the case, workers from O’Malley’s company, Origin Fire Protection, were ordered by the owner to remove asbestos insulation from the Kankakee, Illinois building in question without using the proper methods. Once removed, the employees disposed of it in unmarked bags and dumped the bags in an open field where members of the general public had access to the debris. As such, they may have been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers, which can cause cancer.
Furthermore, O’Malley’s workers were not licensed to perform asbestos removal and may have not been wearing the proper gear for such a task. As a result, it is likely that the employees inhaled tiny asbestos fibers and are now candidates for developing mesothe lioma cancer in the future.
U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis of the Central District of Illinois announced the verdict in last week’s case, noting that O’Malley had only one motive in mind – to increase his profits. Hence, his actions showed a disregard for the health of his employees and for that of the general public by exposing them to “dangerous airborne asbestos fibers,” Lewis added.