For Immediate Release
MADIGAN: RENOVATION STOPPED FOR ALLEGED ASBESTOS VIOLATIONS
Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today said a Cook County judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring the owner of a Chicago apartment building to begin clean-up and decontamination to resolve environmental problems caused by the improper handling and removal of asbestos-containing materials (ACM).
Madiganís office filed a complaint December 20 against Jorge Rodriguez, Jr., who owns the two-story structure at 3417 N. Lowell Ave. in northwest Chicago, for alleged release of asbestos fibers into the air by workers hired to renovate the basement of the building. In response to this filing, the court issued the preliminary injunction order.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) received a citizen complaint about the project and on December 11, 2006, conducted an inspection. Based on that inspection, IEPA placed a seal on the building on December 15. On December 13, the IEPA referred the matter to Madiganís office.
ďBecause of the known dangers of asbestos, this project must not proceed until the defendant complies with the laws that protect workers and residents against asbestos exposure,Ē Madigan said.
Under the terms of the court order, Rodriguez must:
The IEPA observed dry, friable insulation and other debris suspected of containing asbestos scattered and uncovered throughout the basement of the apartment building during the December 11 inspection. When asbestos is ďfriableĒ, it can, when dry, be easily crumbled and reduced to powder which can release asbestos fibers into the air. Madiganís complaint alleges that the defendantís workers failed to use proper wetting techniques to guard against the asbestos release.
According to the complaint, some of the insulation was still affixed to pipes while other insulation was on the floor mixed with debris. Samples of the insulation and debris obtained by the IEPA during the inspection tested positive for asbestos. Madiganís complaint also alleges that workers improperly removed ACM and placed it in bags outside of the building for disposal as general waste.
Madiganís complaint seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 for each violation and an additional $10,000 for each day the violation continued.
Assistant Attorney General L. Nichole Cunningham is handling the case for Madiganís Environmental Bureau.