In Denver, Colorado, a federal grand jury has charged James Robert Soyars Jr. with nine counts of violating the Clean Air Act in regard to asbestos handling surrounding work performed by his asbestos remediation firm, Talon Environmental Inc., located at 17792 E. Bails Place in the eastern suburb of Aurora.
The charges state that, between April 22 and August 28 of 2006, Soyars (through his company, Talon Environmental) removed asbestos from three sites and housed it in a storage facility in Denver instead of properly disposing of it per National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations, which are emissions standards that also contain regulations for disposing of asbestos removed during demolition or remodeling.
These NESHAP regulations are the result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, being required, under the Clean Air Act, to develop rules or standards for all industries that generate one or more of the named pollutants in quantities significant enough to cause a public health hazard. The Clean Air Act, originally drafted and passed in 1963, amended in 1970, and expanded in 1990 to further protect air quality and the ozone layer, both defines the types of asbestos and sets standards for their safe removal and disposal.
These regulations require that asbestos be bagged, placed in designated and labeled containers, and delivered to a hazardous waste site appointed as such by the EPA or its regional representative.
Instead of following these regulations, Soyars’ company, Talon, removed asbestos from the Transamerica Title Company at 121 E. Vermijo Ave, Colorado Springs; a bowling alley in Greeley (Colorado); and a Mazda dealership in Aurora, and then stored it in a rental storage facility.
The indictment, filed on Feb. 10 in U.S. District Court, cites Soyars for three counts each of failing to dispose of asbestos residue as quickly as possible, failing to label containers as hazardous waste, and failing to mark the vehicles used to take the asbestos waste to the storage unit.
Asbestos is the only recognized cause of mesothelioma, a slow-acting but generally lethal form of cancer of mesothelial tissues. Occurring as pleural mesothelioma (in the lungs) in about 75 percent of cases, the disease tends to lie dormant for up to five decades, silently wreaking havoc in the body’s vital tissues and organs, before causing symptoms of sufficient severity that sufferers are forced to seek medical help.
The usual prognosis, after several decades, is about a year to live – a prognosis that may be improved by new testing methods that examine protein markers in the pleural fluid that typically surrounds mesothelial tumors. This test can identify mesothelioma much earlier, and much more accurately, than most methods currently available, and early identification is the cure to treating mesothelioma. However, many people who contract the disease are never aware they have been exposed to asbestos and thus never seek testing until too late.
If convicted, Soyars could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Those inadvertently exposed to asbestos fibers as a result of his reported failure to follow NESHAP regulations could be facing incurable disease and a painful death.
Sources: Peublo Chieftain, KRDO, EPA website