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Press Release

Houston County Man Sentenced for Violating Asbestos Work Practice Standards

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

MARSHALL, Texas – A 60-year-old Kennard, Texas man has been sentenced to prison for federal environmental violations, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

                Rodney K. Beshears pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2016, to violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act and was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap.

            According to information presented in court, Beshears admitted that in October of 2011, he and his employees began excavating and removing a pipeline in northeast Texas.  On Dec. 16, 2011, an inspector with the Texas Department of State Health Services conducted a site inspection where Beshears was removing the pipeline near Diana, Texas, and informed Beshears that the pipeline had a coating of asbestos.  On Dec. 21, 2011, Beshears received training on asbestos removal practices which included instructions on the proper handling of asbestos material required under the work practice standards of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants or “NESHAP” rules for asbestos when excavating and removing pipe with a coating of asbestos.  On Jan. 13, 2012, the Texas Department of State Health Services inspected another site where Beshears was excavating and removing the pipeline just outside of Ore City, Texas and again informed Beshears that the pipe had a coating of asbestos material. 

Beshears’ removal of the pipeline continued through March, 2012, during which time, Beshears removed, and caused others to remove, several thousand feet of pipeline which contained regulated asbestos containing material, between Diana and Ore City, Texas.  The excavation, cutting and removal of the pipeline, as directed by Beshears, included no wetting of the asbestos material that coated the pipeline as Beshears had been instructed during the training.  The asbestos material was crumbled and pulverized by hitting the pipe coating with a hammer to knock it off the pipe to expose the pipe so it could be cut into pieces; asbestos was crumbled and pulverized by dragging the pipe segments across the ground; and asbestos was not disposed of at approved disposal facilities.  Beshears was indicted by a federal grand jury on Sep. 3, 2014.  

"The health dangers associated with asbestos are well known and its safe removal must be handled according to the law,” said Bill Stevens, Acting Assistant Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division Dallas Area Office.  “The defendant knew the law, yet knowingly and repeatedly violated it by directing his employees to illegally remove pipeline coated with asbestos.  As an employer, the defendant was obligated to uphold environmental laws that safeguard the health of his workers and the community at large.  This plea demonstrates that companies and their owners who callously place the American people at risk will be held accountable for their actions.”

                This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Dallas, Texas, the TCEQ’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble. 

Updated May 26, 2016