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Asbestos Violations on the Increase in Michigan

Michigan is a state that has been pivotal in industrial development throughout the years, and as a result there was a tremendous amount of construction that accompanied the various booms within the state. Years later, the buildings that were once seen as essential and state of the art are today the target of demolition projects. At the same time that this is happening, the state is dealing with an increase in the number of Clean Air Act violations that are being called to the attention of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, as well as to federal prosecutors. Both groups are working hard to ensure that those who are in violation are held responsible and that involved parties going forward are made aware of the nee for compliance to protect the public’s health.

The first major instance of a violation came when it was time for asbestos insulation covering pipes to be removed from the Utica Trim Automotive Plant in Shelby Township in the state. The incident took place in 2010, and involved a demolition crew being tasked with removal of the insulation while working under dismal conditions. There was no heat provided for the workers, no light, and no running water. Protective clothing was minimal, and consisted of thin suits that were essentially disposable pieces of paper. The onsite supervisor, Daniel Clements, says that the project manager instilled an unrealistic quote for the workers, and made the environment threatening by suggesting that they would be fired if they did not meet their goals. In addition, officials tasked with monitoring did not comply with the rules, ignoring the existence of asbestos dust on workers’ clothing and hair.

The issue was raised and violations have been met with fines, jail time and other penalties. Beyond this particular example there were 78 letters sent out during 2014 to notify violators of the issues that need to be addressed, and since 2011 there have been eleven people convicted or who pled guilty to criminal charges. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, says, “We want to make sure that people understand there are criminal consequences for failing to comply with environmental laws. The harm from improperly abating asbestos is very serious.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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