The ex-councilman of East St. Louis Ill city, Charles Powell Jr. was sentenced to prison term of 15 months and two years of supervised release on Monday for illegal removal of asbestos during renovation of building, violating the federal Clean Air Act.
The ex-council man, who is also the owner of Powell’s Demolition Co., was tried in the federal district court for the Southern District of Illinois. In June, Powell had already pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the clean air act and one count of failure to notify the concerned authorities before removing the harmful asbestos material.
Powell is accused of removing asbestos materials from a 12 story Spivey Building in East St. Louis when he entered into a contract with real estate developer Phil Cohn in 2002 for converting the building into an office complex and shopping center. Powell did not take any preventive measures for workers during the renovation work and did not follow the EPA safety rules of wetting the asbestos before removing it. Along with this, Powell is also guilty of not consulting the contract waste haulers and notifying the Illinois Environment Protection Agency regarding the asbestos removal.
The other party in this case, Cohn has also been indicated and sentenced for his involvement in the renovation project to 60 moths jail and five years supervised release on the same changes in 2005.
Asbestos was commonly used in thermal insulation and other building material for its fire retardant properties. However, it is a deadly carcinogen too and causes malignant mesothelioma cancer and impairment of body organs that result in death. Due to the severity of diseases caused by asbestos, its use has been banned by the EPA of US. According to EPA safety standards, all asbestos material must be wet before it is handled to avoid asbestos exposure.
This case has been investigated jointly by the EPA and FBI and prosecuted by the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Illinois.