More than two years after trash bags filled with asbestos waste were discovered in a vacant house in North Toledo and in an alley in East Toledo, two local men have been indicted on federal charges for illegally dumping the cancer-causing substance.
Toledoans John Mayer, 52, and Timothy Bayes, 32, each were charged in U.S. District Court with violating the Clean Air Act and regulations involving the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing material, U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said Thursday.
“These defendants are accused of ignoring the laws and regulations that are in place to protect the public,” Mr. Dettelbach said in a news release. “Protecting the environment, including the air we breathe, is a priority of my office and the Justice Department.”
Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber historically used in a number of building products such as insulation.
In 1971, it was declared a hazardous air pollutant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the indictment, between September, 2010, and December, 2010, Mr. Mayer hired two individuals to remove insulation from boilers, duct work, and pipes in the basement of a warehouse in Toledo that he had rented so he could sell the scrap metal from those items. The warehouse was a former manufacturing plant.
At Mr. Mayer’s direction, Mr. Bayes allegedly was paid $150 to $200 to take some 82 garbage bags containing the insulation from the site to three neighborhoods in Toledo — an alley off St. Louis Street in East Toledo, a vacant house on Lagrange Street in North Toledo, and another site on Champlain Street in North Toledo. By law, such material must be disposed of at a licensed facility.
Asbestos-containing materials also must be wetted as they are removed; the city’s Division of Environmental Services must be notified, and a person trained in federal asbestos regulations must be on site. None of those things happened in this case, prosecutors say.
Heather Lauer, a spokesman for the Ohio EPA, said removal of asbestos is highly regulated because of its health risks. Asbestos fibers are very thin and can become lodged in the lungs.
“Asbestos is very, very useful when it comes to fireproofing and controlling sound, but if it gets broken up, it can go into the air — that’s when we say it becomes friable — and that’s what the concern is,” she said. “If it’s not removed properly, people can breathe in those fibers, and it can really hurt them.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and the Ohio EPA.