TWO INDIVIDUALS INDICTED FOR CONSPIRACY TO
VIOLATE THE CLEAN AIR ACT
Two Northern Michigan individuals have been indicted for conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and for substantive violations of the Clean Air Act for events surrounding the illegal removal of asbestos at a former automotive plant in Utica, Michigan. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Randall Ashe, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Chicago. The defendants are Brian Waite, 38, and Daniel Clements, 49, both from the Bay City area.
The illegal removal of asbestos-containing materials occurred from December 2010 through February 2011 at the former Ford plant in Utica, Michigan. According to an asbestos survey of the property, the building contained more than 60,000 linear feet of asbestos-containing materials, and more than 30,000 square feet. The indictment alleges that during this asbestos-removal job, defendants Waite and Clements directed workers to tear down the asbestos-containing material while it was dry, and to place the material into plastic bags without wetting it. To facilitate removing the asbestos-containing material rapidly, defendant Clements instructed workers to "let it fly" and "let ‘er rip." The indictment also alleges that Defendants Waite and Clements instructed workers to meet a goal of "1,000 feet" of asbestos-containing materials removed each day. In response, workers sometimes kicked or threw the asbestos-containing materials from the lifts, rather than lowering the materials to the ground. In addition, some of the workers broke larger pieces of dry asbestos-containing materials, in order to fit them into the bags.
Waite was arrested on July 19, 2011 on a three-count indictment, and was arraigned in duty magistrate court. Clements is scheduled to appear on July 20, 2011.
“Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, and unsafe asbestos removal practices put the health of both the workers and the public at risk," said Ashe. "These arrests show that the government will take action against those who are alleged to have broken the law."
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell and Special Assistant United States Attorney James Cha. The case is being investigated by agents of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.