MONTEREY COUNTY (BCN) — The Monterey County District Attorney’s office settled an environmental protection case involving the illegal disposal of toxic asbestos waste on Monday.
Robles had improperly stripped and removed insulation consisting of 10 percent asbestos from steam lines and steel pipes while dismantling a greenhouse, according to Monterey County Deputy District Attorney James Burlison.
Robles and Robles Trucking Quality Service, Inc. workers then improperly transported and attempted to dispose of the asbestos-containing waste at Johnson Canyon Landfill in Gonzales even though the landfill does not accept hazardous waste, Burlison said.
Robles and his company were stopped at the landfill and the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District alerted, Burlison said.
According to the office of the District Attorney, Robles and his crew failed to perform the required work practices that must be followed when disturbing asbestos and failed to follow the laws involved in proper transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.
“It’s a strict liability offense,” Burlison said. “Their claim was that they didn’t know it contained asbestos. But at the end of the day, they accepted liability.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of lung cancers and lung diseases.
“It’s encoded in federal law that there is no known safe exposure level to asbestos,” Burlison said. “If you are even transporting it, people in the public can breathe the asbestos fibers.”
According to the district attorney’s office, the defendants cooperated with the prosecutor in resolving the case and agreed to pay the settlement, which includes $110,000 in civil penalties and $40,000 for the costs of the investigation and enforcement. The amount of civil penalties will be reduced by $30,000 if the defendants timely dispose of the waste as set forth in the judgment, according to the district attorney’s office.
“A lot of pipes have asbestos in them,” Burlison said. “Be careful and have a professional check. Contact the air district and don’t put the public at risk. It costs a little extra, but you want to make sure you do it the right way.”