Ventura Co. (Calif.) D.A. Reports Settlement of Civil Case

June 7, 2004

Ventura County (Calif.) District Attorney Gregory Totten announced that the Consumer and Environmental Protection Division has filed and settled a civil case against Western Cardinal Inc.; Lawrence Michael Oyres; and Heidi Lynn Oyres, stemming from the alleged negligent mishandling of asbestos-containing materials at the Camarillo Airport.

Western Cardinal Inc. leases commercial space at 205 Durley Avenue, Camarillo. The building was covered with siding panels made out of intact asbestos-containing material. Between April and July 2001, the defendants hired individuals to perform demolition and renovation work to the building.

During this work, panels containing asbestos were allegedly broken apart and/or sawed so that the asbestos in the wallboards was reduced to powder (became friable). When one of the workers discovered that the material contained asbestos, he reported it to the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (“APCD”).

The worker advised APCD that his employers reportedly had directed him to remove the panels without telling him the panels contained asbestos, failed to provide him with any personal protective gear, and directed him to dispose of the materials into a rented open-top rolloff bin.

County officials sequestered the bin and collected samples of its contents. Laboratory analysis showed the materials to contain asbestos at levels of 20 percent. Materials containing asbestos at levels greater than 1 percent must be handled as hazardous waste if the material is friable. Such materials must be stored in properly labeled, closed containers and must be transported accompanied by a uniform hazardous waste manifest to a lawful disposal site by a registered hazardous-waste hauler. The complaint alleged the defendants negligently violated California’s hazardous waste control laws and air pollution control laws.

The settlement was by way of a Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction, signed by Superior Court Judge Vincent O’Neill, Jr. The permanent injunction prohibits the defendants from violating California environmental laws pertaining to the handling of hazardous waste.

Under the Final Judgment, defendants were ordered to pay $18,725 in civil penalties, investigation and response costs and attorneys fees.

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