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Construction Company Fined for Asbestos Release Leading to Mesothelioma Risk

A construction company that risked exposure to asbestos and potential mesothelioma among its employees and those near its demolition project  has been hit with heavy fines and three years of probation by the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Department of Justice announced that AIREKO Construction Company had entered into a plea agreement following its failure to comply with the asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants while working on the Minillas North Tower in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2012.

According to a news release, in addition to facing three years of probation for violating the federal Clean Air Act and paying the government a $1.5 million fine, AIREKO must also pay $172,020 to provide for baseline medical examinations for all those who were exposed to asbestos fibers, as well as follow-up medical examinations. Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that has no cure.

According to EPA documents, the presence of asbestos on the construction site was first noted by AIREKO employees, but the company did not report its presence as the law requires. Following that, the EPA investigated the project and found that asbestos had been released. Cleanup of the site took over one year, and the failure to report the contamination led to the company’s vice president paying a fine and serving a six-month probation. According to Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez, U.S. attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, “The Clean Air Act requires that construction companies follow specific protocols designed to safely remove asbestos prior to any renovation or demolition activity so as not to expose anyone to the risk of deadly respiratory diseases, and AIREKO Construction Company failed to do so by exposing those who worked at Minillas to asbestos materials. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with all victims who were exposed to the asbestos.”

Tyler Amon, special agent-in-charge for EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New York added, “Asbestos exposure can cause cancer, lung disease, and other serious respiratory diseases. In this case, AIREKO Construction avoided hiring trained and certified asbestos abatement professionals. AIREKO did the work ‘on the cheap,’ willfully putting workers and others at risk. We will not allow businesses to cut corners on environmental protection at the expense of people’s health.”

If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos, then the risk of mesothelioma is very real. For information on steps to take to protect yourself, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.

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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