The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to levy substantial fines against Buffalo, New York’s public housing authority due to an asbestos abatement project at the Kensington Heights housing project. The compliance order charges the housing authority with a number of violations of the Clean Air Act, each of which could carry a fine of up to $25,000 per day. The allegations follow a federal indictment of nine people and two contractors on felony criminal charges related to improperly removing and disposing of asbestos during the cleanup project. Asbestos handling and removal is strictly regulated to protect public health, because asbestos exposure can cause a deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma. There is no cure for mesothelioma.
In addition, the order requires that asbestos in the vacant buildings be removed and the 17 acre complex demolished. The EPA has urged the housing authority to finish this quickly, but states that there is no danger to the public. Soil and air samples outside the buildings tested within acceptable levels for asbestos.
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