Ohio Man Put Workers, Neighbors at Risk during Hospital Demolition

Improper demolition of an old hospital in Piqua, Ohio has resulted in charges of asbestos handling violations for a contractor from Lima.

As part of the demolition process at the former Piqua Medical Center in the town of Piqua, Ohio, reports WKEF-TV 22, the contractor who was hired for the job – Avalon Commonwealth Inc. - removed scrap metal from the building, carted it away, and sold it. In the process, workers left asbestos-laden debris strewn around the hospital grounds, where officials say it was exposed to the wind and elements.

According to prosecutors in the U.S. District Court case, the owner of Avalon – Lamont P. Pryor, age 47 – was aware of the rules of asbestos removal and handling and knew that he was not permitted to leave the friable asbestos out in the open. Instead, it should have been stored in marked bags and taken to a licensed toxic waste facility that accepts asbestos debris.

The infractions were discovered during the demolition in December 2008 by inspectors from the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, a local arm of the government that keeps air quality in check. The inspectors halted the demolition as soon as they discovered the problem, but that may have come too late for individuals who were already exposed to the errant fibers and may have inhaled them. Inhalation of these tiny, sharp fibers can cause cancerous tumors to form in the lung area and eventually result in the development of mesothelioma cancer.

“This defendant put his workers and the residents of a Piqua neighborhood at risk of asbestos exposure just to cut corners,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “We cannot tolerate a knowing choice to violate the law and risk the health of Ohio families, and our Environmental Enforcement Unit will continue to investigate criminal environmental activity within the state.”

“Despite knowing that the Piqua Hospital contained friable asbestos, the defendant failed to notify authorities before demolition as required by law nor did he employ qualified workers to remove it legally and safely,” added EPA Special Agent Randall Ashe. “As a result, asbestos was broken up and piled in areas around the hospital, threatening the environment and jeopardizing the safety of the general public.”

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