Cedar Rapids company ordered to pay $40K over asbestos removal violations at Washington High School

A judge ordered a company to pay a $40,000 fine for exposing students and staff at Cedar Rapids Washington High School to asbestos.
Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 9:49 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cedar Rapids company, Abatement Specialties, has been ordered to pay a $40,000 penalty for asbestos removal violations during renovations at Washington High School in 2014 and 2015.

A Linn County judge approved a request from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller for a civil penalty and injunction against the company.

The decision resolves a 2019 lawsuit over the alleged asbestos removal violations that occurred during renovations at Washington High School in 2014 and 2015.

A petition said an anonymous telephone complaint in June 2015 accused the company of leaving asbestos debris throughout the school.

The lawsuit said a follow-up investigation by a DNR environmental specialist found asbestos debris and airborne particles outside containment areas in the school while teachers, staff, students and construction workers were present.

The DNR recommended the school close and remove Abatement Specialties from the project.

The state sued Abatement Specialties in 2019, alleging the company failed to thoroughly inspect for and remove asbestos before renovation. It also alleged the company failed to wet the material, and failed to carefully lower it to the ground during removal.

Abatement Specialties faced a civil penalty of up to $10,000 a day for each violation.

The company admitted to the violations for the purposes of the settlement, and was ordered to pay $40,000.

“Clean Air Act regulations, including rules over the removal and abatement of asbestos, protect Iowans and our environment,” said Attorney General Tom Miller. “We cannot allow companies to willfully put Iowans, and in this case our students, at risk by skirting or ignoring these important measures. This agreement sends a clear message that companies who don’t do the work to ensure asbestos abatement before renovation projects will be held accountable for their actions.”

The Iowa Attorney General reached a settlement with the Cedar Rapids Community School District in 2017 where the district produced videos to teach school officials about proper handling of asbestos removal.

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