EPA cites Idaho Transportation Department facility in Rigby for federal asbestos violations
Unauthorized and untrained employees net ITD sizeable penalty
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled with the Idaho Transportation Department over federal asbestos violations at an ITD building in Rigby, an eastern Idaho community approximately 90 miles from Yellowstone Park. The settlement includes a $61,250 penalty.
According to related case documents, two untrained ITD workers improperly removed asbestos-containing materials from a break room, contaminating the space in the process. Violations took place in one of a group of maintenance buildings used for highway maintenance.
Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA's Regional Enforcement and Compliance Assistance Division, noted the importance of following proper removal and handling techniques when working with materials containing asbestos.
"Before undertaking renovations or demolition in any commercial or residential setting, it’s important to understand what materials might be involved,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “Asbestos floor tile is in wide-spread use and can be safely removed if proper procedures are followed. Training is essential to ensure asbestos fibers are not released during the removal and disposal process.”
EPA noted that ITD management promptly notified the agency of the alleged violations and had the space promptly cleaned by a qualified contractor who kept EPA informed of their progress. The contractor later provided testing results to show the area was safe to reenter and that all waste was properly handled and disposed of. ITD has advised EPA that it is now training all employees to help them better understand the dangers of asbestos, the federal regulations designed to keep people safe, and how they can help ITD avoid costly penalties in the future .
Under federal asbestos law, building owners or operators must notify the appropriate state agency before any demolition, or before any renovations of buildings that could contain a certain threshold amount of asbestos or asbestos-containing material. ITD did not inspect the building prior to the renovation or report the anticipated removal of asbestos-containing material to EPA.
Asbestos are fibers that occur in rocks and soil, and are commonly found in building materials such as floor tiles, roofing shingles, paper products, heat resistant fabrics, packaging, gaskets and coatings. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause lung disease, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. EPA has regulated asbestos since the 1970's to protect public health.
ITD previously settled with EPA for similar violations at the same facility in 2014 ($55,800 penalty) and in 2015 ($51,986 penalty) at a facility in Priest River.
For more information on how to keep your family safe from asbestos in your community and home, please visit EPA's asbestos website.