Agency claims Maverick Demolition violated asbestos laws during Pensacola demolition
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has filed a complaint in Florida state court in Escambia County against Pensacola, Fla.-based Maverick Demolition Inc. for significant asbestos related violations involving a demolition project in Pensacola.
Following multiple inspections beginning last year, the department says it determined the activities to be in violation of rules and laws related to the demolition of material containing asbestos. In total, the Department is seeking penalties for five violations related to removal, emissions control, and disposal of “regulated asbestos containing material.”
“The Department of Environmental Protection takes our role of protecting public health and the environment seriously, and we are committed to making sure the regulated community complies with our laws and rules,” says Brian Accardo, Director of the Department’s Division of Air Resource Management. “When businesses take actions that are calculated or careless, and potentially harmful to the environment, we will pursue formal enforcement and seek appropriate penalties.”
In this case, the department is asking the court for maximum penalties, which could exceed $500,000. The Department issued a Compliance Assistance Offer Letter and, when the company failed to cooperate, the Department issued a subsequent Warning Letter. Additionally, the Department is consulting with law enforcement officials to determine if criminal action is warranted.
The Florida DEP’s Division of Air Resource Management administers an asbestos removal program under Chapter 62-257, Florida Administrative Code. The program’s intent is to prevent the release of asbestos fibers to the outside air during demolition or renovation activities. The program requires prior notification to the Department on the removal of threshold amounts of asbestos from certain types of facilities.
The department strives to help businesses understand and adhere to Florida’s rules and regulations, and to minimize the possibility of environmental harm. However, when Florida’s laws and the Department’s efforts to assist with compliance are disregarded, formal enforcement action is initiated. Here, violations in the management of hazardous material have led to the Department filing an official civil complaint in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial Circuit.
Fortunately, a case like this is rare, and the vast majority of the nearly 75,000 facilities regulated by the department are in compliance. In 2013, facilities considered in significant compliance with Florida DEP rules and regulations rose to 96 percent, a two percent increase from 2012. Record compliance numbers are a result of the department’s significant education and outreach efforts over the last two years. In 2013 alone, department staff participated in 7,494 education and outreach events, reaching more than 86,700 people. This is based on tens of thousands of inspections and monitoring samples statewide.