08/06/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma lawyers: Cooney & Conway

In an enforcement action demonstrating both the toughness and shortcomings of asbestos regulations, the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) and two of its contractors have agreed to pay $25,000 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act as well as the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollution for Asbestos.

Intended to protect individuals from the deadly diseases that can be caused by asbestos exposure, including lung cancer and mesothelioma—a nearly always fatal cancer of the protective lining covering many internal organs—the regulations provide for strict penalties, including jail time, for violations.

Yet they are widely evaded or ignored. And that, say mesothelioma lawyers who have tried asbestos lawsuits—often obtaining large jury awards and settlements for victims of asbestos-related cancers—may result in countless more preventable deaths.

While states and the federal government have passed a wide range of asbestos regulations, the safety measures they require can be costly and time-consuming, tempting developers, property owners, and contractors to take shortcuts, or bypass the regulations entirely.

Doing so, however, can have dire consequences, particularly in demolition and renovation projects, when the work can easily disturb any asbestos, usually present in insulation, ceilings, or flooring. Once disturbed, the asbestos can become airborne, when it is in its most dangerous form. Asbestos fibers can easily be inhaled into the lungs, triggering disease years down the road. Indeed, mesothelioma—for which there is no cure—can take decades after asbestos exposure to develop.

The Rhode Island violations involved the demolition of 146 homes during a Noise Management Program and voluntary land acquisition at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.

Under federal regulations, RIAC and its two contractors—O.R. Colan Associates of Florida and The Jones Payne Group of Massachusetts—were required to provide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with prior written notification of its intent to demolish the residences. That notice was never provided and the demolition work proceeded, taking place between September 2004 and December 2008. Under the agreement reached with federal officials, Jones Payne will pay the entire $25,000 fine.

Inspectors from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management concluded that no apparent risk was posed to individuals as a result of the violations. But the case is yet another demonstration that asbestos regulations are only effective when those they are aimed at intend well. Even today, with everything that is known about asbestos and its link to deadly cancers, it’s often the mesothelioma lawyer—and not the regulator—who gets results.

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we’ve brought relief—and recovery—to those injured by the negligence or harmful actions of others. In the process, we’ve litigated some of the country’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, helping victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases get answers—and justice.

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