WASHINGTON—Robert Langill of Woburn, Mass., pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act in connection with asbestos abatement at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland announced today.
“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 U.S. Navy to remove asbestos-containing material from several buildings undergoing renovation or demolition at the U.S. Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md.
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 abatement work practice standards, in that workers were directed to remove the panels by smashing them with hammers and crowbars and allowing the transite to fall to the ground and break, thereby rendering the asbestos friable and causing a release of asbestos fibers into the environment. The transite panels from Building 692 had not been adequately wet and no notification of the abatement activity had been 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.
“Robert Langill intentionally violated federal work practice standards established to protect people and the environment from harmful exposure to asbestos,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "We will continue to prosecute individuals who violate the very laws that they are entrusted to comply with."
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 Jan. 10, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
The case was investigated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Noreen McCarthy of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Gina L. Simms, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.