Ill. A.G. Files Complaint Against Contractor

August 4, 2004

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a complaint alleging a Metro East contractor violated the laws regulating the safe handling and removal of asbestos during the 2002 demolition of a downtown East St. Louis building.

In July 2002, the City of East St. Louis hired Michael Collins of C&R Construction to demolish a former department store at 420 St. Louis Ave. The store had been vacant since being heavily damaged in a fire earlier that month.

An Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) inspection found asbestos-containing materials allegedly were found at the facility and in demolition debris. Additionally, Collins allegedly failed to have a representative at the site who was trained to oversee safe asbestos removal or to wet the waste materials that allegedly contained asbestos. Wetting asbestos makes its fibers less likely to float into the surrounding air.

According to the complaint filed July 30 before the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB), IEPA samples taken during the inspection revealed that torn-out pipe insulation contained at least 20 percent asbestos. Additionally, Collins failed to notify the IEPA in advance before demolition of asbestos-containing materials began. Such advance notification is required by law.

“This burned-out store was a dangerous eyesore,” Madigan said. “However, this careless contractor made matters worse by endangering his employees and people in the community by failing to follow the law.”

Madigan’s complaint seeks a hearing before the IPCB for Collins to respond to the allegations of violations. The complaint also seeks the maximum civil penalty of $50,000 per violation and an additional $10,000 per day that each violation continues.

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