Asbestos Abatement Company Owners Plead Guilty to 15 Criminal Charges

One of Washington state’s few certified asbestos abatement companies pleaded guilty to 15 criminal charges in Superior Court on May 2. Tim Pinckney and Pamela Pepper, the owners of Emergency Management Treatment (EMT), a Tacoma-based firm, admitted to falsifying training for years, meaning workers who were supposed to be certified to handle asbestos were doing so illegally.

“We found records going as far back as 2010 showing that these training classes were bad,” said state assistant attorney general Joshua Choate, who prosecuted the case.

Rather than view the required training videos, EMT’s workers were allowed to watch blockbuster films. The owners of EMT let some of the employees skip training altogether, while others were permitted to arrive late and attend just 30 minutes of an 8-hour day. False records were then submitted to avoid state-mandated follow-up training.

“We get a lot of calls on individuals who are cutting corners – either from a business or a colleague,” said Tyler Amon, the Environmental Protection Agency’s special agent in charge at the law-enforcement division in Seattle. “But what we are focused on is where it’s concentrated in a criminal enterprise.”

EMT’s owners also accepted money under the table from uncertified contractors, leaving officials with the daunting task of tracking down all the different homes, schools, and businesses that might have had unlawful work done.

The negligence displayed by EMT has become a common practice by contractors looking to avoid the high cost of abatement, even though the harmful properties of asbestos are well known. Failing to properly handle the substance can expose the public to airborne fibers, which lead to a variety of respiratory health problems, including the fatal mesothelioma.

“It is startling to me how many cases we have in this day and age where people still take that calculated risk,” said Amon.

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