FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2001(202) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
AUTO ASSEMBLY PLANT OWNER AND FORMER MANAGER INDICTED FOR
ILLEGALLY REMOVING ASBESTOS MATERIALS
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The corporate owner of a Kansas City, Mo. automobile assembly plant and its former general manager have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly improperly removing asbestos from the plant in September 1997.
Leeds Industrial Park, Inc., a Missouri corporation which owns the former General Motors auto plant, and Clinton Barr, 40, of Kansas City, Mo., who served Leeds as general manager of the plant from 1994 to December 1997, are charged with one felony count of violating the federal Clean Air Act, according to the indictment returned in Kansas City, Mo.
According to the indictment, on September 19, 1997, an inspector with the Kansas City Department of Health ordered Leeds, through Barr, to hire a qualified and approved asbestos abatement company to clean an area of the plant where asbestos-wrapped pipe had been cut and allowed to drop to the floor.
However, the indictment alleges that on that same day, despite having contracted with an approved firm to do the work, Barr hired untrained Leeds employees to remove asbestos-containing materials from an area close to the portion of the plant that had been cited by the inspector.
The Leeds employees, at Barr's direction, then spent September 20 and 21, 1997, sweeping, shoveling and manually collecting piping insulation and asbestos-containing materials from the plant, the indictment alleges. Those materials were improperly removed, handled, packaged and disposed of, the indictment says.
Asbestos is regulated under the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant. Exposure to asbestos can cause life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer, scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart.
Under Clean Air Act regulations, asbestos-containing materials must be removed from demolition and renovation sites in accordance with specific procedures and work practices. Among other things, workers must wet asbestos insulation before stripping it off pipes; seal asbestos debris in leak-tight containers while still wet, to prevent the release of asbestos dust; and dispose of asbestos-contaminated material at an approved hazardous waste facility.
If convicted as charged in the indictment, Barr could be subject to a maximum punishment of five years in prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000, while Leeds Industrial Park, Inc., could be subject to a maximum punishment of five years of corporate probation, plus a fine up to $500,000.
The charge contained in the indictment is an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Missouri and by the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.