Asbestos Removal Contractor Pleads Guilty to Clean Air Act Violations Arising From PAXRVR NAS Cleanup

GREENBELT, Md. (October 26, 2007) - Robert Langill, age 45, of Woburn, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty today to violating the Clean Air Act in connection with asbestos abatement at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“Robert Langill intentionally violated federal work practice standards established to protect people and the environment from harmful exposure to asbestos,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "We will continue to prosecute individuals who violate the very laws that they are entrusted to comply with."

“Robert Langill violated federal standards when he directed his employees to improperly remove materials containing asbestos causing the hazardous fibers to be dispersed into the air,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ronald J. Tenpas. “Exposure to asbestos is hazardous and known to cause cancer. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a strong reminder that those who choose to ignore asbestos abatement regulations will be prosecuted.”

According to the plea agreement, from 2001 to 2004, Langill was employed with a Maryland asbestos abatement company as an asbestos abatement project supervisor. In 2003, the company entered into an agreement with the United States Navy to remove asbestos-containing material from several buildings undergoing renovation or demolition at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.

From October 2003 to January 8, 2004, Langill directed the removal of transite panels containing asbestos from Buildings 692, 213 and 425 in a manner which violated federal asbestos practice standards. Workers were instructed to remove the panels by smashing them with hammers and crowbars and allowing the transite to fall to the ground and break, thereby causing a release of asbestos fibers into the environment. The transite panels from Building 692 were not adequately watered, which would have reduced the risk that asbestos would be released into the air, nor was notification of the abatement activity given to the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE), the state authority delegated to receive such notification, prior to the commencement of the abatement activity. In addition, unlabelled, improperly sealed bags of the broken asbestos-containing transite panels from Building 692 were stored on the grounds of the naval facility overnight in a truck owned by the company.

“Asbestos, a known carcinogen, can risk public health if not removed properly and the EPA will not tolerate illegal activity which puts the public at risk," said David Dillon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division in Philadelphia. “Those who endanger human health and the environment will be vigorously prosecuted.”

"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for our military personnel and their families, " said Chuck Howard, Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Washington Field Office. "We will continue to aggressively pursue any and all violations of the law affecting the Department of the Navy."

Langill faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain derived from the crime, or twice the pecuniary loss caused to the victim of the crime. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for January 10, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.

Source: United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein

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