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A judge sentenced Philadelphia building owner Gene Cornell Smith to 42 months in prison for deliberately exposing day laborers to asbestos.
Smith put out a bid for removal of asbestos from a warehouse he owned. However, he ended up contracting the job out to an associate, who hired unqualified day laborers to remove the asbestos from the warehouse. These workers were neither trained nor provided with proper equipment.
When the city found out, it ordered Smith to hire a qualified contractor and close the site. He did not, allowing the removal and asbestos emissions to continue. In January 2013, Smith was convicted of conspiracy and five counts of violating the Clean Air Act. The mess left behind required the site to be cleaned up using federal Superfund money.
The proper disposal of asbestos is important for public safety. Asbestos is most dangerous when it’s broken up, damaged or disturbed. When this happens, the fibers are released into the air, where they can be inhaled. Asbestos fibers then lodge themselves in lung or body tissues, and your body cannot break them down. At that point, it begins causing such diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma. Asbestos was used in older buildings, due to the fact that it is nonflammable, before its health effects were known.
You can’t tell when you have breathed in asbestos. The fibers are microscopic, and you cannot taste or feel them. The only way they can be detected is with air sampling. Any amount of exposure can increase your chance for illness.
Prim Law Firm PLLC represents clients in cases involving lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma in West Virginia, and our clients owe no fees unless we are successful in recovering compensation on their behalf.