Affordable Housing Network Inc., owners of the Hawthorne Hills Apartments in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been assessed a fine of $60,000 for a number of asbestos-related violations that occurred when the group undertook renovations at the low income housing complex two years ago.
According to a report in the The Gazette, a judge assessed the civil penalty against Affordable Housing Network last week, citing violations that involved the removal of more than 60,000 square feet of asbestos-containing materials including floor tile and linoleum flooring. Specifically, the owner failed to inspect the property for asbestos prior to commencing renovations, failed to notify the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, failed to remove any asbestos-containing materials prior to any activities that may have caused the release of toxic dust, and mishandled the demolition waste during and at the time of disposal. The non-profit maintains that the violations were unintentional but has agreed to pay the fine for settlement purposes.
Adhering to strict laws about asbestos removal is essential, and each year dozens of companies that choose to take shortcuts find themselves faced with fines for improper asbestos handling and illegal asbestos abatement. The laws protect workers and the general public from exposure to asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. Each year in the U.S., approximately 2,000-3,000 individuals die of mesothelioma – asbestos-related cancer – often due to occupational exposure. Others are exposed during DIY projects or due to instances such as this one, where proper precautions to keep residents safe are not taken.