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News Releases from Region 10

Idaho Transportation Department fails to perform advance asbestos inspection, report contaminated building demolition, in Priest River, ID

Contact Information: 
Mark MacIntyre EPA Public Affairs (macintyre.mark@epa.gov)

Second asbestos-related ITD penalty since 2014

(SEATTLE - July 23, 2015) The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) has settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over federal asbestos violations at a building demolition site near Priest River in northern Idaho's Panhandle. According to the EPA, ITD failed to inspect a former commercial building located in Priest River, Idaho for possible asbestos contamination prior to its demolition and failed to notify EPA of its intent to demolish the building. The settlement includes a $51,986 penalty.

In November of 2014, the "Jachetta" building in Priest River, Idaho was demolished by state workers without a thorough advance asbestos inspection and without properly reporting the project to the EPA. According to case documents, ITD hired a consultant only after it demolished the building, in response to a public complaint. The retained consultant found materials with a range of 2% - 55% asbestos in the debris pile. ITD then hired a certified asbestos clean-up contractor who completely removed a total of 14 cubic yards (two truckloads) of contaminated debris by early December 2014.

Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA's Office of Enforcement, admitted frustration with ITD's continuing lack of diligence in responsible asbestos management.

"Despite assurance from ITD that they will closely follow asbestos regulations and protect their workers, we are still issuing penalties on what should be straightforward project management," said EPA's Kowalski. "We're confident that our enforcement and compliance program will ultimately help them to realize the value of doing the right thing."

Under federal asbestos law, building owners are required to inspect and report the presence of any asbestos products before starting demolition. ITD did not inspect the building prior to demolition or report the planned demolition to the EPA.

Asbestos are fibers that occur in rocks and soil, commonly found in building materials such as floor tiles, roofing shingles, paper products, heat resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. The release of asbestos fibers can negatively affect human health causing lung disease, lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. The EPA has regulated asbestos since the 1970's to protect public health.

As recently as June 2014, the EPA settled another asbestos enforcement case with ITD that involved similar charges at a building in Rigby, Idaho. That case included a $55,800 penalty.

For more information on how to keep your family safe from asbestos in your community and home, please visit EPA's asbestos website.

Read EPA's July 2014 press release about ITD's most recent previous asbestos settlement.