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Michigan Cracks Down on Cities Over Mishandling of Asbestos During Demolitions

Thumbnail image for iStock-95843330.jpgAccording to a recent article by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality may soon go after the city of Detroit, along with demolitions contractors, for health and safety violations over asbestos mismanagement. The article states that the state DEQ traditionally only levied fines against demolitions contractors for violations involving asbestos, but since Detroit has allowed rampant violations to continue and owns many of the properties where the alleged violations took place, the DEQ is within its right to pursue the property owners.

The report claims that state regulators, the city of Detroit, and the Michigan attorney general’s office will sit down at the negotiating table to work out an amicable solution to the issue, which may include both fines and a pledge from the city to adhere to the federal Clean Air Act. The article suggests no timeline for the agreement, but the city claims it is in complete compliance with state and federal asbestos disposal regulations.

Fines for mishandling asbestos during demolition projects in Michigan can range from $2,500 to $40,000, depending on the circumstances of the violation. While the fines may seem steep enough to an independent contractor, municipalities can often afford to cover these costs at the expense of the health and safety of the public. However, given Detroit’s recent financial turmoil, it seems more likely the city will comply with the state’s consent order.

While the regulatory push by the state is promising, it remains unfortunate that so many Detroit residents could have potentially been exposed to a toxic, deadly substance. Often times, unscrupulous contractors engaging in asbestos abatement simply dispose of asbestos-laden floor tiles and insulation like they would common refuse, putting the public safety second to turning fast profits.

For years, building materials and other industrial goods manufacturers knew of the health risks posed by asbestos exposure but did nothing to warn consumers about the potential for adverse health events. The most serious health complication from asbestos is mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive type of cancer usually affecting the thin lining of tissue surrounding the lungs.

While nothing can undo the harm caused by a mesothelioma diagnosis, the law allows asbestos cancer victims to file mesothelioma cancer lawsuits against the asbestos manufacturing companies and other parties responsible for the exposure. Furthermore, victims may be able to file claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts set up by the manufacturers as a condition for restructuring debt with creditors. Depending on the circumstance of the case, victims may be able to hold multiple wrongdoers responsible for the harm caused by manufacturing such dangerous products.

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If you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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