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Washington Developer Faces Asbestos Indictment

Release Date: 10/20/1997
Contact Information: Jeff Philip
(206) 553-1465 1-800-424-4EPA

October 20, 1997

On Oct. 2, Gundhart Fleischer was charged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle with six counts of violating the Clean Air Act for the alleged illegal removal of asbestos containing material. Fleischer planned a new complex of buildings, which could not proceed until an older structure, the Seavue Theater in Blaine, Wash., was demolished and abatement had been conducted on asbestos containing material inside and outside the theater. Fleischer took bids for the proper removal of asbestos and discussed the matter with several local officials responsible for granting him a demolition permit.

Fleischer allegedly attempted to remove the asbestos using his employees, who were not given proper respiratory protection or training for the safe removal of asbestos. Exposure to asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer and a respiratory disease known as "asbestosis." This case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the State of Washington Environmental Crimes Task Force.