Iowa judge assesses $60K penalty against non-profit

Bryan Cohen Jan. 30, 2012, 12:36pm


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Friday that a $60,000 civil penalty has been assessed against Affordable Housing Network Inc. for multiple asbestos-related violations during a 2009-2010 renovation.

Affordable Housing Network is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to residents in the Cedar Rapids area. District Judge William L. Thomas of the Linn County District Court assessed the civil penalty against the organization for alleged violations during the renovation of the 202 unit Hawthorne Hills apartment complex in Cedar Rapids.

Miller filed a petition last week alleging that Affordable Housing Network conducted the renovation without taking compulsory precautions for the potential presence of asbestos.

"In 2009, Affordable began renovations at the apartment complex that included the removal of approximately 60,000 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tile and 2,000 square feet of asbestos-containing linoleum flooring," Miller said.

"Affordable conducted the renovation activities without taking any precautions for the presence of asbestos. The state of Iowa, therefore, seeks the assessment of civil penalties and the issuance of a permanent injunction against Affordable for the numerous asbestos violations committed at and in relation to the renovation project."

Miller also alleged that the organization failed to inspect prior to the renovation, failed to notify the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, failed to remove asbestos before activities that might cause its release, and mishandled the demolition waste containing asbestos during the renovation and at the time it was disposed.

"Asbestos is known to cause disease and cancer in humans, and there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure," Miller said. "Microscopic fibers of asbestos are released into the air when asbestos-containing material is disturbed. If inhaled, asbestos fibers can become permanently lodged in lung tissue and cause lung disease and cancer such as asbestosis and mesothelioma, although symptoms may not appear for up to 20 or more years after exposure."

In the consent order, judgment and decree, Thomas permanently enjoined Affordable Housing Network from further violations of laws involving the handling of asbestos.

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