News and Press Releases

DEMOLITION COMPANY OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO VIOLATING CLEAN AIR ACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2013
http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohs
CONTACT: Fred Alverson
Public Affairs Officer
(614) 469-5715

DAYTON – Lamont P. Pryor, 47, of Lima, Ohio pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Clean Air Act in connection with his company’s handling of asbestos during the demolition of the former Piqua Medical Center in 2008. 

Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Scott J. Nally, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) announced the pleas entered today before U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black.

“The dangers of improperly handled asbestos are well-known and well documented,” U.S. Attorney Stewart said. “Knowingly failing to handle the material properly is a crime and must be punished.”

According to court documents, Pryor and his company, Avalon Commonwealth Inc., removed scrap metal from the hospital as part of the demolition process. The scrap metal was removed and sold, but the rest of the demolition debris, including friable asbestos, was piled in areas around the hospital, exposed to the wind and elements. Pryor knew that he was not supposed to leave the friable asbestos outside the hospital, exposed to the elements, but instead was supposed to properly deposit the asbestos that was generated as result of his renovation and demolition activities at the hospital at a licensed asbestos waste disposal facility. Pryor knowingly failed to do so.

A representative of the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA), the local air pollution control agency serving Miami County and the city of Piqua, inspected the site in December 2008, saw the damaged asbestos outside the hospital, and asked that demolition be halted while the investigation took place.

“This defendant put his workers and the residents of a Piqua neighborhood at risk of asbestos exposure just to cut corners,” Attorney General DeWine said.  “We cannot tolerate a knowing choice to violate the law and risk the health of Ohio families, and our Environmental Enforcement Unit will continue to investigate criminal environmental activity within the state.”

“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos,” said Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Ohio.  “Despite knowing that the Piqua Hospital contained friable asbestos, the defendant failed to notify authorities before demolition as required by law nor did he employ qualified workers to remove it legally and safely.  As a result, asbestos was broken up and piled in areas around the hospital, threatening the environment and jeopardizing the safety of the general public.  Today’s plea clearly shows that anyone who tries to make money by breaking the law will ultimately pay the price.”

Pryor pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the asbestos removal provisions of the Clean Air Act. The plea agreement includes an agreed-to sentence of 13 months in prison. The court will review the terms of the agreement before determining whether or not to accept all the terms, including the sentence.

The case was investigated by the U.S. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Environmental Enforcement Unit in Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Office, the Ohio EPA Office of Special Investigations and RAPCA. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Sistla and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson with the U.S. EPA.


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