Asbestos Found In West Virginia University Area
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, West Virginia does not have any natural deposits of asbestos. Numerous industries such as coal mining, steel, glass manufacturing, and power plants exposed residents and workers to asbestos until the late 1970s when asbestos was declared a hazardous substance. Recent allegations of improper handling of asbestos during an asbestos removal project at a West Virginia University athletic area have raised concerns about a new source of asbestos-related disease and fatalities—asbestos remediation.
Asbestos: What it is, and why is it Dangerous?
Asbestos was thought to be a natural “miracle mineral” because its fibers could be spun into materials that are strong and resistant to fire and chemicals. Industries used it to line machinery, boilers, furnaces, and pipes. Workers and emergency personnel wore asbestos-coated protective gear such as gloves, vests, and jumpsuits.
As early as the 1930s, workers began complaining of lung and skin diseases caused by the microscopic glass-like asbestos particles in the materials used and gear worn. Manufacturers and companies that used asbestos denied such claims for years. Medical science connected asbestos and diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma in the 1970s. Subsequently, the U.S. began to implement asbestos regulations.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that result in lung tissue scarring and difficulty breathing.
Lung cancer is cancer formed in the tissues of the lungs in the cells lining the air passages. While numerous things can cause lung cancer, asbestos exposure is one of the causes.
Mesothelioma is cancer that invades the lining of the heart, lungs, abdomen or internal reproductive organs. This cancer is exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma has no known cure. The average life expectancy of a mesothelioma victim is low at about 12 to 24 months.
Improper Handling of Asbestos in WVU Asbestos Removal Project
In 1999, West Virginia University closed the 30-year-old coliseum after the concrete dome started emitting asbestos insulation into the air. The Board of Governors subsequently hired USA Remediation Services Inc. to remove the asbestos, thereby eliminating any potential health threat to athletes or any other individuals on campus. The 130,000 -square foot coliseum would be one of the largest asbestos removals ever undertaken.
In 2000, EPA inspectors and the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection instructed the sub-contractors (Keystone) on the proper method to handle asbestos for removal. One month after asbestos removal had begun, the EPA inspected a removal area and found dry asbestos-containing ceiling plaster scattered on a hallway floor and office.
The federal Clean Air Act requires regulated asbestos-containing materials to be handled carefully. They must be kept wet to reduce the risk of hazardous asbestos particles floating in the air and securely bagged for disposal.
After the EPA investigated, they alleged that Clean Air Act regulation violations occurred. The EPA proposed a penalty of $35,000 against the University, of USA Remediation Services, Inc., and the subcontractor, Keystone Abatements Services, Inc., for failure to keep asbestos-containing material wet during removal and disposal.
Asbestos exposure at any level is considered unsafe for humans. Undertaking a construction or removal project without proper asbestos abatement procedures exposes workers and nearby residents to risk for asbestos-related disease. Suppose you were put at risk of asbestos exposure by a negligent contractor and contracted mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. In that case, you should speak with a mesothelioma lawyer at Goldberg, Persky & White and discuss your options for compensation.