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Juneau Building Demolition Ignores Asbestos Rules

Release Date: 8/25/2005
Contact Information: John Pavitt
(907) 271-3688

August 25, 2005

Three parties have been named in an administrative complaint by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for asbestos violations during the demolition of the Endicott Building in Juneau, Alaska. The Huntington Family Ltd. Partnership, Hugh Grant, and George Davidson were named in the complaint, which seeks $123,387 in civil penalties for violating the federal Clean Air Act.

The century old Endicott Building (also known as the Skinner Building) was destroyed by a fire on August 15th, 2004. In the weeks following the fire, the three parties engaged in a project to demolish and dispose of the remains of the building. Federal regulations require a thorough inspection of a facility for the presence of asbestos prior to any demolition activity. If a significant amount of asbestos is found, certified asbestos abatement contractors are required to dispose of the material following specific guidelines designed to protect public health.

The complaint alleges that the three parties were notified by a State Health Inspector of the federal requirements to assess the debris for asbestos, and that samples taken from the debris tested positive for asbestos. The three parties then proceeded to demolish and haul material mixed with asbestos to the Capitol Landfill. None of the demolition workers were certified to remove asbestos materials, nor is the Capitol Landfill licensed for asbestos disposal.

”The whole project was completed with a disregard for the regulations set in place to minimize the risk of people becoming gravely ill,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Director of Alaska Operations. “These requirements help to contain the asbestos fibers until they can be disposed of properly.”

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber which was used in building materials prior to the 1980’ due to its fire resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to numerous related diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. Owners and operators of a demolition activity are legally required to remove, handle and dispose of asbestos according to federal regulations.

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