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South Carolina Contractor Facing Prison and Fines over Beach Asbestos Exposure

David Brawell, owner of Cool Cote LLC, will be spending six months in jail for violations of the federal Clean Air Act, as well as paying a $10,000 fine for having allowed asbestos to be released into the environment in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Braswell had contracted with the owners of the Regency Towers, a beach front property, to remove and replace siding and do other renovation work. According to the charges filed by federal prosecutors, he began his work without having conducted an asbestos inspection or filing a notice with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. Additional charges were filed because the company pressure washed the building and sent friable asbestos onto the neighboring beach and nearby properties.  There is evidence that Braswell and several of his staff members were aware of the asbestos-containing material that was present.

The indictment indicates that, “The workers for Cool Cote Inc. were not provided with respiratory protection, nor were the residents of Regency Towers informed of the danger and provided personal or environmental protection.”

The six-month prison term and $10,000 fine were part of a plea agreement which eliminated the original seven charges and fines that were originally being faced, and which could have totaled five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Those charges were for both violations of the Clean Air Act and felony charges of making false statements to federal agents.

According to Maureen O’Mara, special agent in charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in South Carolina, “Today’s sentence should serve notice that EPA and its partner agencies remain committed to protecting communities through tough enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws.” The case was prosecuted and investigated by both the EPA and the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, which had referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Bill Nettles of that office said, “Our office will continue to prioritize the environmental work we do with both federal and state agencies, to ensure these cases are brought to the forefront.”

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma, a rare and always fatal form of cancer. It has also been named as a cause of other serious conditions, including lung cancer and asbestosis.

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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