Owner of Mississippi River Construction Company Sentenced to Jail for Violating the Clean Air Act
Franklin A. (“Al”) Bieri, 54, of Lebanon, IL, was sentenced in federal court today for violating the Clean Air Act, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced. The court ordered Bieri to serve an eight-month sentence with five months’ imprisonment and three months’ home confinement, all to be followed by three years’ supervised release. The court also ordered Bieri to pay a fine of $3,000 and a special assessment of $100.
The charges stem from Bieri’s activities at the Emerson Electric Facility, a seven-acre site in Washington Park, which Bieri purchased in order to demolish and salvage the buildings on the site. Bieri knew that the buildings on the site contained asbestos, but, in April 2010, he used untrained workers who failed to use proper removal and disposal procedures, such as wetting asbestos to limit airborne emissions and proper labeling of asbestos waste to alert others to the danger and ensure the waste went to an appropriate section of the landfill. Bieri admitted that he failed to provide written notification to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency at least ten working days prior to beginning asbestos stripping and removal work, an offense punishable under the Clean Air Act. Asbestos is a declared hazardous air pollutant by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
At sentencing, the district court told Bieri that this was “a profoundly serious crime” and that Bieri put “people’s lives on the line.”
“This well-heeled businessman tried to save a few bucks by sending in untrained and improperly protected people, then had them dispose of this dangerous material improperly, exposing unsuspecting landfill workers.” United States Attorney Wigginton stated. “This conduct is breathtaking, literally. This jail sentence should demonstrate that no one is above the law, and my office will continue to aggressively pursue those who threaten the environment and public safety.”
The investigation was conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin F. Burke and William E. Coonan.
If you suspect an environmental crime, please call the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s hotline at 800.621.8431.