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Asbestos Exposure Sparks a Debate Over Liability

fire damaged building in IllinoisIn Belleville, Illinois a debate is ensuing over who is liable for asbestos exposure which has occurred at East Main and Jackson streets after the demolition of two buildings, which contained three businesses — the Classic Curl beauty salon, a mental health center for Chestnut Health Systems and the Hilltop Emporium thrift store.  The businesses suffered a fire just a year ago causing them to be shutdown.

Hank’s Excavating and Landscaping Inc. was hired to excavate the building and in the process asbestos was exposed into the air.  Asbestos which has been exposed into the air can cause respiratory-tract cancer, pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma (tumors of the membranes lining the chest and abdominal cavities and surrounding internal organs), and other cancers. All forms of asbestos have been proven to be human carcinogens, as declared by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the US National Toxicology Program (NYP), and countless others.

Asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma and other cancers that develop due to asbestos exposure.

Illinois state representatives cited the city, the two property owners and Hank’s for allowing the asbestos into the air and for not notifying the IEPA of the demolition back in August.

According to an article that was recently published by Belleville News-Democrat on May 15, 2011, which recounted the incident, “In that citation, they were told to clean up the asbestos, pay a $300 fee and report all of the steps to the IEPA. Because the parties haven’t done that, IEPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said, the state agency took the next step and told all of them April 5 that the agency would turn the case over to the Attorney General’s office if nothing was done in 30 days. That time has passed, city leaders met with the IEPA, and nothing was resolved, Carson said. Now, IEPA officials are trying to determine what to do next.”

Releasing any form of asbestos into the air can be a tremendous health hazard to the workers in that area, the community, not to mention the firefighters who responded to the fire, who may have inhaled toxic levels of asbestos.

Because the location is deemed private property, there is a debate ensuing in regards to who should be held responsible and who should be in charge of the cleanup.

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