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Tree Service President Pleads Guilty to Illegal Asbestos Work at Conshohocken Warehouse

Release Date: 4/14/1999
Contact Information: Ruth Podems, (215) 814-5540

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. - Christopher M. Arader, president and owner of Arader Tree Service, Inc., pled guilty in federal court in Philadelphia to the unlawful removal and disposal of asbestos from his company’s warehouse in West Conshohocken, Pa.

According to the government’s case, Mr. Arader knowingly violated federal Clean Air Act asbestos regulations during June 1997 to February 1998 renovation activities at the warehouse, located at 10 Balligomingo Road.  As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Arader has agreed to clean up this property.  Sentencing is set for July 12, 1999.

Mr. Arader and his wife purchased the property in May 1997 as the new location for the Arader Tree Service landscaping business.  The government alleges that Mr. Arader recruited employees to remove asbestos-containing pipe insulation from a portion of the warehouse occupied by Murlin Chemical Company.

Mr. Arader allegedly supervised the work, conducted in the evening and involving the accumulation of more than 50 bags of asbestos-containing waste material.  The government alleges that Mr. Arader arranged for the unlawful disposal of this material at several unauthorized locations, including the Balligomingo Road property; an unimproved lot owned by Mr. Arader at 1151 Second Ave., Upper Providence Twp., Pa.; and several commercial dumpsters.

The government alleged that Mr. Arader violated Clean Air Act regulations by failing to wet and carefully handle the asbestos during stripping and removal operations, failing to store asbestos-containing waste in leak-tight containers with required warning labels, transporting asbestos without required warning signs during loading and unloading, and disposing of asbestos waste at unauthorized sites.  Mr. Arader also allegedly failed to provide prior written notice to EPA of the asbestos removal operations.

According to EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe, this prosecution shows the hard line that federal and state law enforcement officials are taking against asbestos violators.   "Asbestos regulations are designed to protect the public from a dangerous air pollutant.  The public expects and deserves full compliance with these requirements," said McCabe.

Asbestos, which is regulated under the federal Clean Air Act and the Superfund statute as a hazardous air pollutant, was once heavily used in insulation and other building materials.  Intact and undisturbed asbestos material does not pose a health risk. Asbestos becomes a health hazard when it releases fibers into the air due to damage, disturbance, or deterioration.  Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease.

EPA regulations impose "work practice" rules for renovation and demolition activities that are likely to disturb asbestos-containing material.  To reduce the risk of asbestos emissions, the regulations require adequate wetting and proper disposal of  asbestos-containing materials.  EPA also requires that a trained supervisor oversee asbestos removal activities.

The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia and EPA’s regional office in Philadelphia.