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Building executives plead guilty to asbestos-related crimes

Despite extensive documentation regarding asbestos and the dangers it presents, there are still individuals and companies that attempt to skirt the strict laws that are in place to protect workers and the public at large. Such a situation recently played out in California, where three executives with a now-out-of-business builder pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants by exposing workers to asbestos.

The nonprofit company was renovating a career training center that was known to have asbestos. Rather than going through the proper channels and hiring properly trained workers, the company used several high school vocational students to do the work of removing the dangerous substance.

The three executives were prosecuted under a federal law designed at maintaining air-quality standards and each of the three men is scheduled to receive at least two years of federal prison time each, 85 percent of which they must serve. The men also face charges under California state laws; the county prosecutor there said that the federal case confirmed some of the allegations they had made and that the state charges would not be dropped.

While the people who pleaded guilty will have to serve their time in prison, it remains to be seen how the young people who may have been exposed to the asbestos fibers will end up. Symptoms of mesothelioma or some other asbestos-related affliction might not show up for decades. An experienced asbestos claims attorney could hep advise people who may have been exposed to asbestos.

Source: Merced Sun-Star, "Firm Build trio plead guilty to federal asbestos violations," Victor A. Patton, March 11, 2013

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