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Mustang Ranch owner charged with improper handling of asbestos

Release Date: 2/11/2005
Contact Information: Laura Gentile ( - 415/947-4227 (desk) or 415/760-9161 (cell)

Photo of Mustang Ranch where illegal asbestos removal occurredSAN FRANCISCO -- This week the new owner of the Mustang Ranch building agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $23,000 for improperly removing asbestos from the building, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The owner of the building, Lance Gilman of Mustang, Nev., and Ralph Lynn, the owner of Lynn House Moving of Yerington, Nev., allegedly failed to properly remove asbestos from the building before demolishing the building.

The EPA and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection inspected the site after both agencies received citizen complaints in May 2004. The EPA filed the enforcement action because NDEP is not delegated to administer the asbestos program in Nevada.

"Asbestos, which is present in many buildings, is a serious health hazard if not handled properly," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's air division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Anyone removing asbestos from buildings must minimize any risks to human health."

In 2003 Gilman bought the building from Bureau of Land Management. Before selling the buildings, the BLM determined that the building contained asbestos. Last year, Gilman demolished part of the building and transported several sections to another location. The EPA and NDEP tested the materials and discovered asbestos in some of the building materials, including ceiling tiles and linoleum flooring.

Asbestos, made up of microscopic bundles of fibers, is commonly used in thermal insulation, fireproofing and other building materials. Asbestos has been linked to significant health problems, including lung cancer. When asbestos-containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers separate and may then become airborne and inhaled into the lungs.

The EPA's Clean Air Act specifies procedures that must be followed by anyone disturbing building materials that may contain asbestos. The EPA requires that the materials be kept wet in order to prevent any asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. In Washoe and Clark counties, the county governments are responsible for regulating air emissions of hazardous asbestos that can occur during renovation and demolition activities. In all other Nevada counties, the EPA administers the asbestos program.

Gilman is required to pay the penalty by mid-March.