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ADOT agrees to pay $54,625 fine for Clean Air Act violations

Release Date: 4/19/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

Fine includes $45,000 environmental project

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Arizona Department of Transportation late last week agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $9,625 and spend an additional $45,000 on asbestos regulatory compliance training seminars for violating federal asbestos notification requirements.

In 2003 and 2004, the Arizona Department of Transportation demolished a variety of structures owned by the agency throughout the state of Arizona, including one on tribal lands. ADOT failed to first provide the required asbestos notifications to the EPA at least 10 working days prior to the demolitions, violations of the Clean Air Act.

The EPA's hazardous air pollutants standards specifies procedures that must be followed by anyone disturbing building materials that may contain or disturb asbestos. To enforce these standards, inspectors must know when renovations and demolitions occur to determine if the company has adequate safeguards in place.

"Asbestos, which is present in many structures, is a serious health hazard if not handled properly," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Notification must be made to the EPA so inspectors can ensure people aren't being endangered unnecessarily."

As part of settlement, ADOT must arrange training seminars over the next three years covering asbestos regulatory requirements, with an emphasis on asbestos requirements for charter schools and restoration contractors, at no cost for attendees. Persons interested in attending the seminars may contact the EPA at (415) 972-3989.

Asbestos, made up of microscopic bundles of fibers, is commonly used in thermal insulation, fireproofing and other building materials. Asbestos has been linked to significant health problems, including lung cancer. When asbestos-containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers separate and may then become airborne and inhaled into the lungs. Researchers still have not developed a "safe level" of exposure, but it is known that the greater and longer the exposure, the greater the risk of contracting an asbestos related disease.