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Feds: TX Company Illegally Dumped Asbestos Waste

As agreed, a roofing company removed asbestos from the roofs of several Wisconsin prisons. Then, the company dumped the asbestos in a vacant lot. That was not part of the deal.

According to court documents, in 2014, Texas City-based Brazos Urethane Inc. obtained a $4 million contract with the Bureau of Prisons to replace roofs on buildings at the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. The project involved the abatement of asbestos-containing materials that required the use of special removal and disposal procedures to guard against asbestos contamination.

Subsequently, the company dumped asbestos-laced roofing waste materials from the Oxford worksite onto a property it purchased near the prison. Brazos concealed the illegal dumping from the BOP and DNR, then lied about its cleanup efforts once it was caught, according to prosecutors.

“Brazos dumping hazardous material on a residential property wasn’t just dangerous for the community, it was defrauding the United States government,” William J. Hannah, special agent in charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Midwest Region, said in a statement. “The public can rest assured that the asbestos has been properly removed and disposed of and that Brazos is being held accountable for its actions.”

Asbestos in Buildings

Going back to ancient times, people used asbestos for various purposes, usually as a filler in clay or as wicks in ceremonial candles. Even back then, asbestos was cheap and plentiful. Mining advances in the early 20th century made this mineral even cheaper and more plentiful. So, builders packed roofs with asbestos to insulate and fireproof buildings.

Generally, builders used chrysotile (white) asbestos, a form of asbestos that’s easy to manipulate. Chrysotile asbestos also breaks down quickly. Therefore, asbestos in attic insulation, roof tiles, and roof shingles leaks out of hairline cracks.

When that happens, tiny asbestos fibers, which cause cancer, serious lung diseases, and other illnesses, infect multiple people at the time and in the future.

The people who move in and out of asbestos-laced buildings usually wear no PPE (personal protective equipment). They could easily inhale a stray asbestos fiber. Furthermore, these fibers are small enough to absorb into the body through pores on the skin.

Airborne asbestos fibers float into common areas, like parking lots and cafeterias. Therefore, they could infect people who do not work in asbestos-laced buildings. Ambient (environmental) exposure victims also include take-home asbestos victims. Workers often unintentionally carry fivers home on their bodies, in their hair, on their clothes, or in their vehicles.

Subsequent renovation workers are at risk as well. Some contractors are very careful when they renovate or demolish buildings that were built before 1980 and, therefore, probably contain asbestos. Others do not particularly care.

These individuals often have multiple legal options, such as workers’ compensation, a negligence action, and a bankruptcy victim compensation fund claim. A nationwide asbestos lawyer can provide more information.

Asbestos Abatement

Exposure victims are at risk for serious illnesses, and property owners are at risk for large liability judgments. In most states, a property owner could be liable for an on-premises injury even if the owner didn’t know about the loose asbestos or other injury hazard.

Until recently, lack of direct knowledge was a defense in these cases. But the Supreme Court basically eliminated the bare-metal doctrine in 2019.

So, to avoid a huge judgment, a property owner must go through the asbestos abatement process, a process that could take one or three steps.

First, a certified contractor should test for asbestos. This test includes an air test as well as a close visual inspection of certain walls, ceilings, and floors. If the air test shows a level above 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter of air, the property owner must proceed with the rest of the abatement process. If the level is below 0.1, or if the inspector determines the structure is at risk, owners have a choice. They can do nothing and hope for the best, or they can remove the asbestos.

Asbestos removal is a time-consuming task since this substance is so dangerous. Asbestos removal includes safe asbestos disposal. This hazardous substance cannot be thrown into the garbage.

Complete asbestos removal is quite expensive. But it is cheaper than a liability judgment. Plus, it gives owners peace of mind, something that is priceless.

Connect With a Detail-Oriented Attorney

Mesothelioma victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.

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