Summary of Criminal Prosecutions
D. Puerto Rico 3:15CR448
D. Puerto Rico 3:15CR527
AIREKO Construction Company failed to comply with the asbestos National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants during the illegal removal of asbestos containing materials from the Minillas North Tower in May 2012, according to court documents.
Over the weekend of Saturday, May 11, 2012, to Sunday, May 13, 2012, a sub-contractor of AIREKO removed asbestos containing material from the ceiling of the 9th floor of Minillas North Tower. The asbestos containing material was removed without following any of the Asbestos Work Practice Standards required by federal regulation. A significant portion of the asbestos containing material was taken from the 9th floor and was placed in the trash area behind the building. Approximately 550 square feet of asbestos-containing stucco ceiling material was removed from the 9th floor. The sub-contractor was hired to do general demolition and on Saturday, May 12, 2012, and Sunday, May 13, 2012, were working within the scope of their employment and at least, in part, for the benefit of Defendant AIREKO.
The asbestos containing material was discovered by AIREKO employees on Monday May 14, 2012, and AIREKO failed to immediately report the release of the asbestos to the National Response Center (NRC) as required by law. The EPA initiated an investigation into the release and received sampling results later that week showing asbestos throughout the building and the agency issued a notice to the Puerto Rico Building Authority that then closed the building. Clean-up of the Minillas North Tower took approximately one year.
Congress has found that medical science has determined that there is no minimal level of exposure to asbestos which is safe for unprotected persons. The government identified approximately 450 persons who were exposed to asbestos fibers between the illegal removal and the order by the Public Building Authority to close the building.
The investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division in New York. The cases were prosecuted by Howard P. Stewart, Senior Litigation Counsel Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice and Assistant United States Attorney Carmen M. Marquez.
AIREKO Construction Company was sentenced to a fine of $1.5 million dollars and three years of probation for violating the federal Clean Air Act.
As part of a plea agreement with the government, AIREKO was also ordered to pay $172,020 to cover a baseline medical examination and follow up medical examination for victims exposed to asbestos fibers in the aftermath of the illegal activity.
- Clean Air Act (CAA)
- Cleanup / Superfund (CERCLA)
- Title 18 U.S. Criminal Code (TITLE 18)