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New Haven - Former Automotive Warehouse Receives 17 Asbestos Violations

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on December 08th, 2016

A New Haven worksite was found by EPA and OSHA inspectors to violate asbestos safety measures and received fines for 17 "serious" violations. Some of these violations included failing to regularly monitor the concentration of asbestos in the air and failing to provide protective respirators to employees.

More than 200 companies in the U.S. have deliberately exposed their workers to tremendous levels of asbestos throughout the past century. Based on decades of scientific research, the Agency for Research on Cancer classified asbestos as carcinogenic to humans, regardless of the fiber type, size or amount inhaled. Furthermore, in 1986, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proclaimed lung cancer as the greatest risk for individuals who work with asbestos. However, asbestos exposure has been affecting countless workers across the United States for decades and the risk of developing mesothelioma and lung cancer is only now publicly emerging. Asbestos exposure should be taken into account more seriously by a large number of industries that still use asbestos products.

A New Haven Jobsite Failing to Protect Employees from Asbestos Exposure

In November 2015, the New Haven Health Department received an employee's complaint about suspicious activity that took place in a deserted building. When the inspectors visited the location, workers vanished through a back door. As Paul Kowalski, the director of New Haven Environmental Health Program noted, that is when the feds were called.

The sanctioned violations included:

  • failing to regularly assess the concentration of asbestos in the air;
  • failing to use proper vacuum cleaners to collect asbestos dust;
  • failing to wet the worksite during cleanup, removal, handling, and cutting;
  • failing to offer protective respiratory equipment to employees;
  • failing to protect lunch areas from unsafe concentrations of asbestos;
  • failure to provide decontamination shower areas for the employees.

New Haven Worksite Ended after Several Violations Were Found

Based on the violations described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Connecticut State Department of Health Asbestos Program, and OSHA the activity on the New Haven worksite ended.

The property was used as an industrial warehouse. It was initially owned by Yale University and purchased by Sawco Associates in 2009. In 2015, Sawco sold the 42,995 square feet building and the land on the property (85,533 square feet) to 206 Wallace St. LLC.

The principal of the 206 Wallace St. property Aleks Rakaj is also a member of CT Repair Services (former automotive occupant of the warehouse) and of Arka Group LLC at 220 Wallace St. As he contested the violations mentioned above, the case is still in court.

Despite knowing the inherent asbestos, many companies still use it for its price and properties. The difference between the present and the past is that, nowadays, companies invest more money and training in handling asbestos, according to state and federal regulations.