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Allegheny County Cited for Asbestos Violations at Pittsburgh Airport

Release Date: 3/20/2002
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

Contact: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has issued a complaint against Allegheny County for allegedly violating federal asbestos regulations related to the 1997 salvage at the now-demolished old terminal building at the Pittsburgh International Airport.

EPA’s complaint seeks a penalty of $108,900 for violations of work practice safeguards that are designed to reduce asbestos emissions during demolition and renovation operations.

With the building closed to the public, contractors for Allegheny County were permitted to conduct salvage activities in the old terminal building before its 1997 demolition. During an investigation, an EPA inspector observed asbestos-containing debris from salvage operations – including pipe insulation, fireproofing materials, ceiling tiles and caulking – scattered in various areas of the building. This material was not wetted or enclosed in leak-tight bags, as required by Clean Air Act regulations.

Earlier, the Allegheny County Health Department ordered that work be stopped. Following its inspections, EPA also ordered Allegheny County to cease work, and ordered the cleanup of asbestos-containing debris in the building.

EPA also quickly referred the potential violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Department filed OSHA complaints against seven contractors, collecting a $745,000 penalty against HDR Engineering, Inc., $75,000 against ICF Kaiser Engineers, Inc., $25,000 against Menzock Scrap, Inc.,
$8,625 against Geneva College, $5,000 against JK Salvage, $3,900 against Montour Development Co., and $3,500 against alama Brothers Electric, Inc. See the initial OSHA complaint,

EPA’s complaint cites Allegheny County as the owner and operator of the airport at the time of the alleged violations. (Now the airport is owned and operated by the Allegheny County Airport Authority).

The county has the right to a hearing to contest the alleged violations and proposed penalty.

Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that was once heavily used in insulation and other building materials. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease.

To reduce the risk of asbestos emissions, EPA’s regulations require that asbestos-containing materials that may release asbestos fibers during demolition or renovation must be adequately wetted during removal, and carefully handled to prevent unnecessary damage. These materials must remain adequately wetted, or be securely bagged, or otherwise treated to minimize asbestos emissions until disposal.