Ill. man gets 10-year sentence over asbestos removal

Michael P. Tremoglie Jul. 30, 2012, 1:22pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Illinois federal judge Michael McCuskey has sentenced Duane "Butch" O'Malley, to 10 years in prison over asbestos cleanup violations.

He was also ordered to pay restitution of $47,086 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000.

O'Malley, 59 and of Bourbonnais, Ill., was convicted by a federal jury on Sept. 26 for the illegal removal, handling and disposal of asbestos from a Kankakee building in August 2009. The government presented evidence that O'Malley, owner and operator of Origin Fire Protection, was hired by Michael J. Pinski to remove asbestos-containing insulation from pipes.

The jury ruled that neither O'Malley nor his company were trained to perform the asbestos removal work, but he was paid substantially less than a trained asbestos abatement contractor would have charged to perform the work according to the EPA.

"Asbestos must be removed in a safe and legal way in order to protect people's health and reduce the risk of exposure," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"The defendant's actions endangered the health of his workers and the surrounding community and the sentence shows that those who violate critical environmental safeguards will be prosecuted."

The EPA alleged that the Clean Air Act and other EPA regulations were violated. Among these was the illegal disposal of the asbestos. The asbestos insulation was stripped from the pipes while dry, and then placed in more than 100 large unlabeled plastic garbage bags. The bags were then dumped in an open field in Hopkins Park, resulting in soil contamination and exposing the workers hired by O'Malley to dangerous asbestos-laden dust, the EPA alleged.

Under the CAA there are requirements to control the removal, handling and disposal of asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant. Any owner or operator of a renovation or demolition activity which involves removal of specified amounts of asbestos-containing material must comply with the EPA regulations.

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