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Press Release

Detroit Man Sentenced For Clean Air Act Crimes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

A Detroit man was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison on October 24, 2014, for criminal violations of the Clean Air Act, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

Joining McQuade in the announcement was Randall Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland imposed sentence on Terry Williams, 49, following Williams’ guilty plea to violating the Clean Air Act in connection with the dismantling and scrapping of the former AMC headquarters on Plymouth Road in Detroit. The work disturbed asbestos-containing materials and released ozone depleting substances.

In 2012, Williams hired crews to remove salvageable metal from the facility, which included the dismantling of air conditioning units charged with R-22 refrigerant, an ozone-depleting substance. Williams’ crews dismantled 50 to 70 of these air conditioning units, including many large rooftop units, causing releases of R-22 refrigerant into the environment.

Williams also arranged for other fixtures on the property to be scrapped, ordering crews to cut and remove pipes he knew to be insulated with regulated asbestos- containing insulation. These insulated pipes were removed without following the work practice requirements under the federal asbestos regulations, including failing to properly wet the asbestos-containing materials to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and failing to secure the materials for proper disposal.

“Exposure to asbestos can lead to serious diseases, and the defendant’s unsafe asbestos removal practices put the health of his workers and the public at risk,” said Ashe. “This defendant also chose to ignore the hazards of releasing ozone depleting substances, potentially causing harm to both human health and the
environment. This sentence demonstrates that those who knowingly engage in such conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

“Individuals who disregard environmental laws create real harm by polluting the air we all breathe,” McQuade said.  “Their conduct not only risks the health of people living near the facility, but jeopardizes air quality in Michigan for future generations. We hope that prosecutions like this one will deter others from engaging in similar violations.”

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Gorland and Special Assistant United States Attorney David Mucha. The case was investigated by agents of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division.
Updated March 19, 2015