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EPA Cites Improper Asbestos Removal in Demolition of Wilkes-Barre Steam Heating Plant

Release Date: 1/6/2005
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has cited violations of federal asbestos regulations during the summer 2002 demolition of the former municipal heating plant in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

EPA proposes a $36,850 penalty against the City of Wilkes-Barre and local contractors A.R. Popple, Inc. and Wyoming S & P, Inc. for improper removal of asbestos-containing material during the demolition of the city’s former steam heat plant.

Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant that was once heavily used in insulation and other building materials. Clean Air Act regulations require that asbestos-containing materials that may release asbestos fibers during demolition or renovation must be adequately wetted during removal, and carefully handled to prevent emission of asbestos fibers. These materials must remain wet until disposal. The rules also require that this work must be supervised by a work manager trained in asbestos regulations.

In June 2002, the Wilkes-Barre Department of Public Safety ordered the demolition of the city’s steam heat plant, located at 129 N. Washington St., an abandoned facility owned by the defunct Wilkes-Barre Steam Heat Authority. The city contracted with Wyoming S & P, Inc. to provide asbestos removal services and with A.R. Popple, Inc. to demolish the plant.

Based on inspections by EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), EPA cited the city and the two contractors for failing to keep asbestos-containing debris adequately wet during removal and disposals, and failing to expeditiously dispose of asbestos debris. EPA’s complaint also cited these parties for inadequate notification of the asbestos demolition, and failing to have a trained supervisor present during demolition activities. As a result of EPA’s enforcement activities, the site was cleaned and the remaining asbestos was handled in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

The cited parties have a right to a hearing to contest the alleged violation and proposed penalty. For more information on asbestos and its regulation, visit