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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



JUNE 25, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CLARION HOTEL MANAGEMENT FIRM TO PAY $200,000 FINE

FOR ASBESTOS VIOLATIONS


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the company that manages the Clarion Hotel pleaded guilty in federal court today and was sentenced for violating federal standards for removing asbestos material during renovation.


             Hulsing Hotels, Missouri, Inc., the company which manages the Clarion Hotel at 11823 N.W. Plaza Circle in Kansas City, Mo., waived its right to a grand jury. Dan Hulsing, on behalf of Hulsing Hotels, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple this morning to the charge contained in a federal information. The court imposed a $200,000 fine against Hulsing Hotels for violations of the Clean Air Act.


             “This substantial criminal penalty should serve as a reminder that all property owners need to comply with federal asbestos-removal requirements,” Wood said. “We will hold businesses accountable for their legal obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees and the general public.”


             According to the federal information, the Kansas City Quality Air Program received an anonymous report on March 9, 2006, that untrained workers were removing suspected asbestos-containing ceiling texture from the hallways of the Clarion Hotel. The hotel was undergoing a large-scale renovation project on the first, second and fourth floors of the east wing in which asbestos-containing material was being disturbed and removed. The project manager, Dan Hulsing, told investigators that he was not trained to inspect, remove, or dispose of asbestos-containing material. The information charges that a licensed asbestos abatement contractor did not participate or advise on the renovation project.


             The hotel renovation project had been in progress for at least 60 days – from January to March 9, 2006 – without following the Clean Air Act work practice requirements. During this time, the building was occupied and in use by construction workers, hotel employees and guests.


             “Hotel guests pay for comfort and deserve to breathe clean and safe air. Hulsing Hotels risked public health by exposing all to asbestos during renovations,” said Granta Nakayama, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s guilty plea should be a reminder to other hotel chains that renovations must be done carefully and legally.”


            Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Hulsing Hotels paid $100,000 of the fine and will pay an additional $100,000 within one year.


            The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to establish work practice standards for hazardous air pollutants such as asbestos. Those regulations must be followed to ensure the safe and proper handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos during renovation work. Asbestos work practice standards require, among other things, that the property owner ascertain the amount of asbestos in the facility and notify the EPA, and that asbestos-containing material be removed from the facilities before any work begins that would break up the material. Regulations also require at least one person trained in asbestos removal procedures be present at all times when asbestos-containing material is being handled or removed. All asbestos-containing material must be disposed of in accordance with federal regulations.


            This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne E. Rauch. It was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html