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Idaho Transportation Department Fined for Ignoring Asbestos Rules

In the state of Idaho, as well as throughout the rest of the United States, federal law requires that any building that is slated for demolition must first be inspected to determine whether there is any asbestos present: when there is, special measures must be taken. This law has been in existence for many years, so you would think that a government agency like the Idaho Transportation Department would be aware of it and adhere to its requirements. Remarkably, the agency has now been fined not once but twice for failure to inspect a building or to report a demolition to the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to a report in the Idaho Statesmen, fines assessed against the agency have totaled over $100,000, and untold number of people and workers have been exposed to deadly asbestos fibers. In the first incidence, a building was demolished in November of 2014 without the benefit of an inspection or of any plans being submitted to the EPA. After a public complaint, the agency brought on inspectors to test the debris that was left behind by the demolition, and found that it contained numerous contaminated materials and registered up to 55 percent asbestos. A few months earlier another case involving similar findings was reported.

The director of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement, Ed Kowalski, barely masked his anger when discussing the lack of attention being paid to asbestos rules. “Despite assurance from ITD that they will closely follow asbestos regulations and protect their workers, we are still issuing penalties on what should be straight-forward project management. We’re confident that our enforcement and compliance program will ultimately help them to realize the value of doing the right thing.”

For its part, a spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department indicated that they are putting together an internal policy to make sure that in the future no demolition is scheduled without the proper inspections being done, and that a copy of the completed inspection report will be available on every demolition site. “We share the EPA’s concern regarding workers, supervisors and the public at large in terms of health risks posed by asbestos.”

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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