The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Ty Allen Barnett, of Dover, Pennsylvania, entered a plea of guilty to the improper handling and removing of regulated asbestos containing material as required by federal law.
A ten-count indictment filed in January 2020, charged Lobar Inc., First Capital Insulation, Inc., Francis Richard Yingling Jr., Dennis Lee Charles Jr., M&J Excavation Inc., John August Sidari Jr., and Ty Allen Barnett, with various violations of the federal Clean Air Act arising from disturbing and removing asbestos in violation of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations. Lobar Inc. pleaded guilty on Feb. 9. The remaining defendants have pleaded not guilty and are currently scheduled for trial in June 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer P. Wilson.
Asbestos was designated a hazardous air pollutant in 1971 which can become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs. There is no known safe amount of exposure.
According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, the criminal charge is the result of Barnett’s activity as the project supervisor for the asbestos abatement contractor, First Capital Insulation Inc., on the Berwick Area School District project in Berwick, Pennsylvania. The scope of the project was designed to safely remove environmentally hazardous materials from the site, demolish the former weaving mill building, and construct a new elementary school.
Prior to purchasing the mill in January 2014, the Berwick Area School District obtained an environmental assessment report that identified hazardous substances, including asbestos, located in the old facility. The existence of asbestos was confirmed by an environmental consultant. The findings of both assessments were shared with Lobar, and its subcontractors responsible for asbestos removal and demolition. Despite this, the demolition went forward before the asbestos was properly removed until stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Howard P. Stewart, Senior Litigation Counsel from the Justice Department‘s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Miovas and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia Miller for the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case. The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA.
The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.