Former Foundry Ordered to Pay Workers, EPA More than $500K in Asbestos Exposure Case
A global developer, manufacturer, and supplier of industrial metal components has been ordered to pay, in a plea agreement, more than $340,000 to workers that it exposed to asbestos. The company was also ordered to pay $200,000 (the maximum penalty) for criminal violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 7413(c)(4), a provision of the Clean Air Act. The $340,000 award will be paid to 11 workers for future medical monitoring for mesothelioma and similar lung conditions.
The exposure occurred six years ago at the company’s foundry in Berlin, Wisconsin, where, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin, management “Negligently ordered numerous employees to remove asbestos-containing insulation material from the roof of an inactive industrial oven. The work on the oven released chrysotile asbestos fibers into the air. The company failed to provide the workers with adequate personal protective equipment, or follow standard asbestos abatement procedures, placing the workers in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.”
Further, federal prosecutors say company managers neglected to tell the workers that they would be working with asbestos-containing materials. Supervisors also misled Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors by reporting that no asbestos was present after claiming that samples were taken from the outside of the oven and tested. A “second” sample tested positive for chrysotile asbestos.
In the release, Brad Ostendorf, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program for Region 5, said, “It is well known that asbestos exposure is hazardous to human health. If materials containing asbestos aren’t handled safely – and legally – workers and the community can be placed at great risk. EPA and its partner agencies are committed to protecting both the environment and public health.”
As part of the plea agreement, the manufacturing company acknowledged that it negligently exposed its employees to asbestos. The Berlin foundry shut down in 2015, following years of complaints about exposing workers to numerous health hazards.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor immediately. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better outcomes.
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