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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 12, 2012

Former Foreman Charged With Violating Clean Air Act

Edward K. Durst Did Not Follow Regulations While Overseeing Removal Of Asbestos-Containing Materials From Virginia Tech Building

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA -- The foreman of an asbestos abatement company, hired to remove asbestos-containing materials from Virginia Tech’s Cowgill Hall in 2007, was indicted Thursday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke for violating the Clean Air Act and other related charges.

Edward K. Durst, 52, of Richmond, Va., was charged in a five count indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act, one count of illegal handing of regulated asbestos-containing material, one count of illegal transportation of regulated asbestos-containing material, one count of illegal disposal of a regulated asbestos-containing material and one count of making a false statement to federal investigators.

According to the indictment, Durst’s former employer, an asbestos abatement company, hired to oversee the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials from Cowgill Hall on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007. The materials which are the subject of the indictment were aluminum window frames with asbestos glazing.

Instead of properly handling, transporting and disposing of those materials, in compliance with the Clean Air Act, Durst, instructed others to remove and dispose of the window frames from a designated asbestos waste container and load them into unlabeled vehicles. Durst later instructed others to transport those materials to a metal recycling facility and kept the cash payments for the scrap aluminum.

In addition, Durst is charged with lying to investigators about his actions.

If convicted, the maximum possible penalty faced by the defendant is up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

The investigation of the case began when the president of the asbestos abatement company became aware of Durst’s conduct and contacted the Virginia Tech Police Department. The federal investigation was conducted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Task Force, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Inspector General United States Housing and Urban Development, the Virginia Tech Police Department and the Christiansburg Police Department. Special Assistant United States Attorney David Lastra (EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel) and United States Attorney Jennie L.M. Waering will prosecute the case for the United States.

A Grand Jury indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated April 14, 2015