Owner of Former Nestle Plant Pled Guilty to Illegally Removing Asbestos
The former owner of the Nestle facility in outside of Fulton, New York has pled guilty to violations to the Clean Air Act. Edward Palmer used the employees at the facility to illegally remove or abate the toxic substance. Not only were his employees untrained in the safe and proper handling and removal processes associated with asbestos, Palmer also placed the employees in danger.
The Nestle facility had nearly 2,000 feet of piping that contained asbestos insulation. By using his untrained employees instead of professional asbestos abatement contractors, Palmer ensured that safety processes were not followed in both the removal and eventual dumping of the asbestos.
According to Federal prosecutors on the case, the employees at the Nestle plant did not first wet the asbestos before the removal process began. Typically, licensed asbestos abatement contractors keep the asbestos wet for the duration of the removal process to ensure that the asbestos remains intact. Also, this process eliminates the possibility of disintegrating asbestos products contaminating the air. By using his own employees and not following federal and state regulations, Palmer exposed the staff to asbestos.
Ron Woodward, Mayor of Fulton, said that asbestos is a common material found in buildings of a certain age. The owner of the Nestle facility should have ordered environmental assessments, contacted state and federal environmental protection agencies and taken the proper steps to ensure that the public remained protected.
Woodward stressed that despite the illegal removal of the asbestos, the community near the Fulton plant was not in any immediate danger. However, the health of the employees tasked to remove the asbestos was threatened.
Asbestos exposure is the leading cause of mesothelioma, a rare, yet deadly form of cancer that can affect the delicate lining or pleura of the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity. If mishandled, asbestos can generate toxic dust that can easily be inhaled. This dust can embed into the pleura causing widespread damage.
Sentencing will begin in October where Palmer may face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.