Lawsuit filed over improper asbestos removal in Middle Ave. demolitions

Source: http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com, June 8, 2011

A Lakewood property owner is being sued by the state attorney general for hiring a contractor who did not follow asbestos removal protocol when demolishing two buildings on Middle Avenue in Elyria.

The two properties at 518 and 522 Middle Avenue came down in May 2007. At that time, Donald Mountain, of Lakewood, was the listed owner of the two properties, and he hired Cleveland-based Richard’s Your Outdoor Connection Inc., to raze the buildings.

However, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court by attorneys in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s office, neither Mountain nor the company he hired notified the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency of plans to demolish the properties, and a thorough asbestos inspection of the properties was not done prior to the buildings being torn down and the site being cleared.

Under Ohio law, any time asbestos is removed from a building, a thorough remediation plan must be filed through the Ohio EPA and precisely followed to ensure the particles, which have been linked to cancer, are not airborne in the community.

The lawsuit, which demands a civil penalty award of $25,000, said Mountain “increased risk to the public health and environment, and illegally thwarted the ability of the Ohio EPA to ensure that the quality of air in Lorain County is protected from the emission of airborne asbestos.”

The contractor, Richard Whitt, did secure two demolition permits from the Elyria Building Department, but failed to follow up with the Ohio EPA for the proper prior inspection and notification.

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