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May 4, 2012

Judge Penalizes Bettendorf Company & Owner for Asbestos, Dumping & Burning Violations

(DAVENPORT, Iowa)  A Scott County judge Thursday ordered a Bettenfdorf company and its owner to pay a $35,000 civil penalty for asbestos, solid waste, and open burning violations.
District Court Judge Mark J. Smith assessed the penalty against Rockingham-Lunex Co., of Bettendorf, and its owner, William T. Schmidt, 62, of Pleasant Valley.  The judge also issued a permanent injunction ordering the defendants from again violating the law.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Tom Miller filed a petition in Scott County District Court alleging that in March 2011, the defendants demolished two buildings located at 7551 State Street, in Bettendorf.  The petition alleges that the defendants improperly disposed of wastes, openly burned wastes, and failed to comply with numerous asbestos handling and disposal regulations.

On March 29, 2011 the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a complaint of nighttime open burning at the Rockingham-Lunex Company property and began an investigation.  The property is the site of a former manufacturing facility.

On March 31 a DNR environmental specialist located a large burning pile of demolition and landscape waste, including wood, fiberglass insulation, asphalt shingles, metal debris and other building materials.  The DNR also located two nearby demolished buildings, and later confirmed the presence of asbestos.  The defendants did not have the demolished buildings inspected for asbestos, did not notify the DNR prior to the demolitions, and did not employ a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove the burned and unburned demolition debris.

The asbestos violations included failure to inspect for asbestos prior to demolition, failure to provide notice of the demolition to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, failure to remove asbestos-containing material prior to demolition, and mishandling of the asbestos-containing material.

Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant known to cause disease and cancer in humans.  There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.

In response to a Notice of Violation issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the defendants subsequently properly disposed of the remaining demolition debris.

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