Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Settlement of California asbestos blasting case

Article in today's Sacramento Bee -- Asbestos Dust Case Settled in El Dorado -- concerning a settlement between prosecutors and developers accused of creating public health hazards by blasting hillsides containing naturally occurring asbestos:

Prosecutors have reached a $350,000 settlement with a pair of El Dorado Hills developers and a construction contractor accused of numerous public health offenses in blasting open hillsides that bear a particularly toxic form of asbestos.

Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and Larry Gualco, whose companies form West Valley LLC, and DeSilva Gates Construction of Dublin were accused of but not formally charged with 47 violations of air and water pollution laws based on documented observations by local environmental enforcers, according to Deputy District Attorney Gloria Mas.

The most serious allegations concern the thick dust clouds from explosions in areas the county had designated as known or likely to contain naturally occurring asbestos, Marcella McTaggart, head of the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District, said after signing the settlement Friday.

In other words, decades after manufacturers stopped using asbestos for fire-proofing and insulation, asbestos-related litigation continues for a variety of reasons, including not only disease latency and the continuing presence of asbestos fibers in older products and buildings, but also because the mineral asbestos lurks in hillsides as a naturally occurring potential hazard.



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