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Three Kanakee Area Men Charged With Clean Air Act Violations Involving Asbestos

June 21, 2010

Urbana, Ill. – Three Kankakee area men have been charged with felony offenses under the Clean Air Act for alleged violations relating to the removal, handling and disposal of asbestos from a Kankakee building in August 2009. Those charged are Michael J. Pinski, 41, of Kankakee; Duane L. O’Malley, 57, of Bourbonnais; and James A. Mikrut, 47, of Manteno, Illinois.

The grand jury returned the indictment earlier this month but the charges had remained sealed pending O’Malley’s arrest and initial appearance in court. On June 11, O’Malley, also known as “Butch,” of the 5600 block of North 5000 E Road, Bourbonnais, was arrested and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal in federal court in Urbana. O’Malley was released on bond and a trial date scheduled on Aug. 16. Pinski, of Marquette Lane, Kankakee, and Mikrut, of South Poplar, Manteno, are scheduled to appear for arraignment on July 15, 2010.

Each of the men has been charged with five counts of violating the Clean Air Act related to the alleged illegal removal, disposal and handling of asbestos from a building owned by Pinski, through his company, Dearborn Management, Inc., at 197 South West Ave., in Kankakee. The indictment alleges that in August 2009, Pinski hired O’Malley, owner and operator of Origin Fire Protection, to remove asbestos-containing insulation from pipes in the five-story building. According to the indictment, neither O’Malley nor his company, Origin Fire Protection, was trained to perform asbestos removal work. O’Malley allegedly agreed to remove the asbestos insulation for an amount that was substantially less than a trained asbestos abatement contractor would have charged to remove the asbestos insulation. The indictment alleges that O’Malley arranged for Mikrut to recruit and oversee workers to remove the asbestos; Mikrut allegedly recruited five individuals who removed the asbestos insulation from the pipes inside the building from Aug. 15 to Aug. 20, 2009.

Under provisions of the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated rules, regulations and requirements to control the removal, handling and disposal of asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant. Any owner or operator of a renovation or demolition activity which involves removal of specified amounts of asbestos-containing material must comply with the EPA regulations.

The indictment alleges that the three men violated provisions of the Clean Air Act and the federal asbestos regulations, including: failure to notify the EPA prior to the removal; failure to have present during the removal any on-site representatives who were trained to comply with EPA’s regulations for asbestos removal; failure to ensure the asbestos insulation was adequately wetted while it was being stripped and removed; failure to mark vehicles used to transport the asbestos-containing waste material during the loading and unloading of the waste with signs that included the words “DANGER,” “ASBESTOS DUST HAZARD,” “CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD” and “Authorized Personnel Only”; and, failure to deposit the asbestos in a waste disposal site for asbestos. Instead, the indictment alleges that the asbestos insulation was placed in approximately 127 large, unlabeled plastic garbage bags, which O’Malley directed Mikrut to dump, and on Aug. 23, 2009, Mikrut and another individual allegedly drove to a field in Hopkins Park, where they dumped the bags of insulation in an open field, resulting in asbestos contamination in the soil.

Pinski and Mikrut have also each been charged with one count of making false statements to investigators. According to the indictment, each allegedly made false statements, that they knew nothing about asbestos removal at the site, when they were interviewed by an Illinois EPA investigator on separate occasions in September 2009.

If convicted, the penalty for each violation of the Clean Air Act is up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The penalty for making a false statement is up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Criminal Enforcement, Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller is prosecuting the case.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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