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U.S. EPA settles asbestos case with Bay Area building owner

Release Date: 03/26/2007
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(03/26/07 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has reached a settlement with a San Francisco building owner and a construction contractor for violating federal regulations governing asbestos removal from buildings.

The penalty for the building owner, Cheng, Chow and Chu, Inc, is $149,000. The construction company, Sincere Construction, will pay a $1,500 penalty.

In August 2000, Cheng, Chow and Chu hired Sincere Construction to remove regulated asbestos-containing materials – such as acoustic ceiling, tiles, linoleum, insulation, fire-proofing, and stucco – from property it was renovating in on Maple Court and Main Street in Hayward. Ultimately, more than 31,000 square feet of asbestos-containing material was removed from the building, which was used as a chiropractic college before closing.

Inspections of the building by EPA and Bay Area Air Quality Management officials uncovered numerous asbestos emission and disposal violations. Debris collected at the site for analysis showed extremely high levels of asbestos. Inspectors verified that the asbestos was not kept wet and emissions to the outside air were apparent. In addition, Sincere Construction is not a certified asbestos contractor as required by law.

“Because of its potential for endangering health, asbestos removal demands the utmost care and specialized training,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the Air Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Companies that provide removal services must ensure that their employees are properly trained to prevent asbestos exposure to the public.”

Asbestos is a known environmental carcinogen that the EPA has determined is a hazardous air pollutant. It presents a significant risk to human health as a result of air emissions. Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers can contract illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

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