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EPA Complaint Against Rhode Island Flooring Contractor Seeks $70,535 Penalty For Violations Related to Its Handling of Asbestos Flooring At Church Building

Release Date: 03/31/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865:

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2005; Release # sr050318

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint proposing a civil penalty of $70,535 against a Bristol, RI, flooring contractor for alleged violations of asbestos requirements under the federal Clean Air Act.

The New England office of EPA has charged McGovern's Floor Covering, Inc. with several violations of federal asbestos regulations during a renovation the company conducted at a church in Barrington, RI, in August 2003. Specifically, EPA says McGovern's violated requirements of the Asbestos NESHAP rule while installing flooring in two classrooms at the Barrington Congregational Church.

The complaint alleges that the company used a high-speed sander/grinder on existing vinyl asbestos floor tile within the Church building but that Church officials stopped the work when dust was observed in and around the work area. The Church immediately closed the building and hired an environmental consultant to test for asbestos.

After lab tests confirmed the presence of asbestos, the building was thoroughly inspected and a cleanup was performed by a state-certified abatement contractor.

The violations alleged by EPA in its complaint include the company's failure to: inspect for asbestos, provide proper notification to regulators of the presence of asbestos, wet asbestos and maintain wetness during operations, have trained personnel on site, properly dispose of asbestos waste, and thereafter maintain asbestos disposal records.

Airborne asbestos fibers, when inhaled into the lungs, can increase the risk of asbestosis, a debilitating lung disease, and may also increase risks for various types of cancers. EPA recognizes no safe level of exposure to airborne asbestos.

"This action should raise awareness of the risks involved in disturbing vinyl asbestos tile," stated Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "It is imperative that McGovern's and other flooring contractors thoroughly investigate whether asbestos or other hazardous materials are involved in their operations prior to commencing work."

For more information about the Clean Air Act and its enforcement program, visit the EPA Web site:

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