Compliance: They Aren't Kidding - Part II

For those contractors who plan to hide from EPA scrutiny or imagine OSHA will look the other way, by claiming they didn’t understand the regulations, and are hoping, if caught, to be let off with a warning, it’s again time to remind us all they are not kidding around. It is serious business to try to cut the corners and not comply with Clean Air, RRP and OSHA regulations. As you read the following compliance news release, besides feeling sorry for Mr. Knapp’s tough sentence, substitute the word “lead” everywhere “asbestos” is included, and the Toxic Substances Control Act where the Clean Air Act is mentioned.  Then try to make the argument that RRP, Lead Safe Work Practices and the need to protect residents and workers from lead is a passing fad. Then try again to envision Washington coming to your rescue with a roll back. This news release confirms what some sources tell us … that the EPA is getting more serious and OSHA has announced, besides pushing fall protection to residential contractors, that they hired a large contingent of agents to enforce their rules more aggressively. Still think they are kidding? FROM THE EPA NEWS RELEASE: Iowa Man Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison for Conspiring to Violate the Clean Air Act WASHINGTON, June 22, 2011 — Bobby Joe Knapp, of West Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James E. Gritzner to 41 months in prison for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act. The former owner and operator of the Equitable Building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, was also sentenced for violating Clean Air Act asbestos work practice standards for his role during the renovation of more than 10 floors of the building between 2005 and 2008. He must also pay a $12,500 fine and $200 crime victim special assessment fee. “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and sends a strong warning to anyone thinking of cutting corners to save money at the expense of people's health.” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. On March 18, 2011, Knapp pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and one count of failing to remove all regulated material containing asbestos from the Equitable Building before beginning the renovation project at the building from 2005 until 2008. In the plea agreement, Knapp admitted that he conspired with Russell Coco, who was also charged and pleaded guilty to the same counts on February 15, 2011, to remove materials containing asbestos from the Equitable Building without complying with the requirements of the Clean Air Act. According to testimony presented at sentencing, while Knapp was overseeing the project, material containing asbestos was removed from the building and disposed of in an uncovered dumpster.  The testimony also showed that workers who were not provided with personal protection equipment performed the demolition work – an OSHA no-no. More information on EPA’s criminal enforcement program: