A Genesee County, Michigan man has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming that the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department knowingly uprooted asbestos from many downtown Flint homes. Ray Barker II, of North Branch, Michigan, claims the department placed workers and unsuspecting homeowners at risk for asbestos exposure, reports mlive.com.
Barker believes he was fired due to his repeated attempts to alert GCCARD superiors of the asbestos. Steve Walker, GCCARD executive director, however, has noted that Barker’s story is not true. Walker said the department hasn’t disturbed asbestos, and that Barker was fired due to poor work performance.
Barker believes the percentage of asbestos in the vermiculite removed from the homes’ attics exceeds the 1 percent threshold, yet Walker has argued against such claim. If the percentage of asbestos were to exceed 1 percent, however, workers and homeowners would be put at risk for contracting several asbestos-related diseases.
Mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis have been known to arise from extended asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is the most aggressive form, known to affect 3,000 Americans each year. The disease most commonly affects the pleura–the internal lining of the chest cavity.
Due to a latency period of 10 to 50 years, mesothelioma doctors tend to diagnose patients in the later stages of their disease. Because of this late diagnosis, patients most often face short life expectancy periods.
Walker said GCCARD stops work when asbestos could be heavily present. He also noted that workers use protective clothing while on the job. Walker added, “If you follow that protocol, it is not a problem. We do (follow protocol) very carefully.”
The suit has been filed in Genesee County Circuit Court.