Arizona City to Pay $240,000 for Asbestos Violations

The decree would settle a complaint filed last year against the city of Winslow, Ariz., former city administrator John Roche and former owner William Christie for the improper demolition of nine buildings, collectively known as the Apache Apartments. The complaint named John Roche as a defendant in the case because of his key role in controlling and supervising the alleged unlawful demolition activities, including the breaking up, collection, transport and burning of asbestos-containing materials.

“We are glad the city of Winslow is taking responsibility for these serious violations,” said Deborah Jordan, Air Division Director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “These laws protect workers and the public from exposure to friable asbestos, a known carcinogen.”

In 2002, the city declared the apartment buildings uninhabitable and proceeded to demolish four of the nine buildings. Under federal law, certain demolition activities require prior notification to proper authorities and inspection for asbestos-containing materials, but the city failed to conduct such an inspection and also failed to notify the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality of its intent to carry out these activities. Tipped off by local residents, ADEQ inspectors ordered Winslow to cease the demolition, pending an inspection for asbestos-containing materials.

Follow-up investigations revealed asbestos-containing materials were present in the remaining five buildings at levels that required demolition and disposal to be regulated. Despite the inspection results and instructions from ADEQ on proper demolition and disposal, the city, under John Roche’s supervision, demolished the remaining five buildings and hauled some debris to a City-owned vacant parcel, where it was burned – resulting in additional asbestos release and exposure to workers and the public.

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