Colorado AG fines firms for mishandling asbestos

Two abatement companies have been fined $1 million for failing to properly handle asbestos.

July 16, 2014
CDR Staff
Legislation & Regulations

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has announced that Tri State Environmental Group and Aftermath Cleanup & Remediation Services LLC will pay fines totaling $1 million for failing to properly dispose of asbestos-containing waste material (ACWM). The fine will be split evenly between the two asbestos abatement disposal companies.

The owner of the two companies, James Joseph Duran, and the companies themselves were sentenced after all three pled guilty to the crime of Causing and Contributing to a Hazardous Substance Incident, which is a felony under Colorado law.

The Attorney General’s office says that an Arapahoe District Court judge sentenced Duran and the two companies for criminal behavior that also violated Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s regulations regarding illegal storage of ACWM. The Environmental Crimes Unit of the Attorney General’s Office partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division and the CDPHE to investigate and prosecute the case.

“We take our obligation to protect Colorado’s environment seriously and are pleased when we secure convictions against those who harm it,” says Attorney General Suthers. “This conviction serves as a reminder that you cannot abandon asbestos in dumpsters and anyone doing so needs to be reported for committing a public health crime.”
According to the Attorney General’s office, starting in 2009, Duran began abandoning ACWM without following the proper safety procedures, which caused a series of hazardous substance incidents.

The AG’s office also notes that Duran and the two companies knowingly violated emissions regulations of the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. Finally, Duran, Aftermath and Tri State knowingly concealed violations from law enforcement and CDPHE officials.

“Unsafe disposal of asbestos endangers human health,” says Jeffery Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Colorado. “This sentence is some measure of justice for the communities, businesses and individuals impacted by the defendant’s conduct. When businesses break the law, the EPA and its partners will step in to protect the health and welfare of the American people.”

James Duran pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 500 hours of community service and six years of probation. He was also ordered to pay $2,538 in restitution. Both Aftermath Cleanup & Remediation Services and Tri State Environmental Group pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to a $500,000 fine.