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Wisconsin AG fines demo firm for asbestos violations

Legislation & Regulations

State inspection determined PJC Group improperly handled asbestos removal at former paper mill.

CDR Staff September 3, 2014

The office of Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has obtained a judgment against PJC Group LLC, requiring the company to pay $47,272 in forfeitures, court costs and mandatory surcharges for violating Wisconsin laws requiring an inspection for asbestos and the safe removal of any asbestos before renovation or demolition begins.

According to the complaint, PJC Group LLC, based in Menasha, Wisconsin, purchased the former Gilbert Paper Co. mill in Menasha on April 16, 2004. PJC intended to develop the facility by renovating a portion and demolishing the rest.

As part of the development, and to assist in its funding, PJC hired other firms to remove scrap metal from the facility and pay PJC a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the metal.

During a July 2006 inspection, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reportedly observed workers removing scrap metal by cutting and removing large pipe insulation without following appropriate asbestos safety precautions. All of the material was dry and the inspector presumed the fibrous material contained asbestos. The inspector also claimed to have observed piles of discarded insulation lying about the mill.

Subsequent sampling by the DNR found the waste insulation contained asbestos.

The agency also found that three large boilers had been removed from the boiler house building for their metal scrap value. The removal disturbed asbestos-containing material, without the area being inspected for asbestos and notification of this activity being filed with the DNR, and without proper asbestos safeguards being followed, including the wetting of the asbestos, before and after disturbance.

PJC pleaded no contest to violating Wisconsin's asbestos laws by failing to perform a thorough predemolition or renovation activity inspection of the entire facility in order to determine the presence of asbestos, failing to notify the DNR of PJC's intention to conduct renovation and demolition activity at the facility, failing to remove regulated asbestos containing material from the facility prior to activity that disturbed it, failing to sufficiently having wetted the asbestos and keeping it wetted until it was contained and failing to carefully lower the asbestos to the ground or floor during removal.

The court imposed a penalty on July 30, 2014, inclusive of forfeitures, cost and surcharges of $47,272 on the company.

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