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Guess your environmental fines

We have developed four scenarios where you may identify yourself in a "normal" situation where you are unaware of the existence of regulations and the potential fines you may be exposed to. The two last scenarios actually occurred and are jobs we were involved with. Feel free to contribute with your own stories of potential or real situations. If your story is published you will receive a gift.

GUESS YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL FINES

Scenario 1.

Mr. Merrygoround owns a house and four months ago he hired a licensed general contractor, Mr. Jose Fernandez, to do a small renovation job in his house. He removed your old leaking roof, put a new roof on, removed some drywall, and installed new drywall and replaced old heating air ducts. The owner paid him and both walked off happy. To save money, he decided to wait with the waste disposal until a neighbor was doing a renovation. He was going to split the cost of a waste dumpster to save money. The neighbor brought in the dumpster and you used his old pickup truck to move the waste over to the dumpster. The waste was in the dumpster for a month when a neighbor smelled something bad and called the local Air Pollution Control District, (EPA) to check on the reported "bad smell". The inspector came out, he looked around, and looked in to the dumpster. Everything smelled good at this time, however, he picked up suspicious pieces of building material, placed the pieces in small plastic sample bags, and had them analyzed for asbestos. The inspector was asked what he was doing there. He was told that the debris came from the other house. The inspector told the owner that he violated a number of regulation because he found some suspect asbestos debris in the dumpster. Pending the test of the samples you were going to be fined for all the violations.

What is your maximum fine if the test shows that asbestos is present in the waste?

The waste was in the dumpster for 30 days, and in your backyard for 120 days.

Find out what the fine was.

Scenario 2.

Mr. Nomore Money, own a two story commercial building, with stores on the ground floor and offices on the second floor. The property manager told the handy man in the building to cut a hole between the ground floor and the second floor. The hole was supposed to be 4' in square and should fit a stairway. This would make it possible for the store manager on the ground floor to go to the office without going around the building. The stairs were installed, and the area was cleaned. The cut out floor debris was thrown in the rear of the building and left there until someone realized the value of the old wood floor, and stole most of it. Six months later, an EPA inspector on his way to lunch, parked in the rear of Mr. No Money's building. He discovered some suspect building debris. The inspector took a sample for testing and found it to be asbestos. The materials came from the asbestos padding between the two layers of wood floor boards. The building owner, Mr. Money was prosecuted and fined.

Find out what the fine was.

GUESS THE COST TO FIX THE PROBLEM

In the following examples we have assumed that there will be no governmental agency involved. Guess the total repair cost including environmental cleanup.

Scenario 3.

In an occupied office building on the 6th floor, a water pipe burst and causes water damage. The plumber had to tear up the ceiling to get to the pipe. He removed 3 linear feet of the insulation and put a temporary seal on the pipe. He installed drying fans to get rid of all the water. An employee was concerned about the potential presence of asbestos in the pipe insulation. The insulation that now was spread throughout the repair area, and had been tracked by workers throughout the office area and down the stairs.

What was the cost to fix this plumbing problem?

Explanation of cleanup cost.

The water leak turned out to be a self-growing problem. The pipe insulation was an asbestos containing material. The entire floor was shut down. The carpets could not be cleaned and had to be pulled up and disposed of as contaminated waste. To be able to pull the carpet, all furniture and office equipment had to be decontaminated, and removed from the floor. Some items could not be cleaned and had to be disposed of as contaminated waste. When all the furniture were removed, the carpet was pulled up, and the underlying old floor tiles that were attached to the carpet had to be removed as well. The floor tiles turned out to be asbestos containing. The underlying mastic that glued the floor tiles to the floor had to be removed as well and was also asbestos containing.

Find out what the repair cost was.

Hazardous Material in the Creek?

A landowner decided to fill his property with construction debris to level the land. He contacted a trucking firm who agreed to transport cement and other construction debris to his property. The debris was used to fill the rear property along the creek to enlarge the flat part of the property. The owner who was the Mayor of the city failed to secure a permit. The regional Water Quality Control Board, the Air Pollution Control District, the Department of Wildlife and Game, the Department of Toxic Substance Control, the EPA and other agencies got involved and required the owner to remove all materials that was used to fill up the property.

Find out what the cost to remove the debris was.

 

 
 
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