Mineola, New York - More than 6 months after employees of the Nassau Coliseum reported the presence of toxic asbestos at their workplace to inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), the agency has announced that the operators of the facility have now been cited for 16 violations regarding workplace health and safety standards, including many that involve asbestos.
According to an Associated Press article, the owners of the New York's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – the arena’s official name – face some $88,000 in fines for the violations, which OSHA said caused employees at the site to suffer exposure to asbestos, which can cause various respiratory diseases. Some employees have already come forth claiming that the asbestos has caused the death of a number of co-workers from mesothelioma and other related cancers.
“We've raised questions about it for years and were always told it was nothing,” said one worker in an interview conducted by the AP last March, alleging that the arena’s management knew about the asbestos but did nothing to solve the problem.
OSHA confirms that although workers were exposed to the material, the general public was not because the asbestos was contained to areas not accessible to guests.
A statement made by SMG, the owners of the Nassau Coliseum, confirms that they will contest the citation, adding that any and all asbestos issues have now been remediated. The attorney for Nassau County says he will work with SMG to resolve the issue with OSHA and help them come to an agreement.
Additionally, the arena was cited for inadequately lighted exit routes and other violations. The aging building has had other issues in the past and the county is now seeking proposals for the replacement of the Coliseum, which was erected in 1972. The arena was closed for a short time after the asbestos was found and the Islanders had to play a portion of their games elsewhere.
Reports also show that more than 80 Nassau Coliseum workers have already filed asbestos-related lawsuits against SMG, alleging that the violations put them in danger of developing diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. It is expected that many more will file in the months to come.