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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that his office has obtained a judgment against PJC Group, LLC, requiring it to pay $47, 272 in forfeitures, court costs, and mandatory surcharges for violations of Wisconsin laws requiring an inspection for asbestos and the safe removal of any asbestos before any renovation or demolition begins.
According to the complaint, PJC Group, LLC (PJC) of Menasha purchased the former Gilbert Paper Company facility located in Menasha on April 16, 2004. PJC intended to develop the facility by renovating a portion and demolishing the rest. As part of the development, and to assist in its funding, PJC hired others to remove metal from the facility for its scrap value. The metal scrappers would then pay PJC a portion of the scrap metal proceeds, which it used to further the development of the facility. During a July 2006 inspection, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) observed workers removing scrap metal by cutting and removing large pipe insulation without following appropriate asbestos safety precautions. All of this material was dry and the inspector presumed the fibrous material contained asbestos. The inspector also observed piles of discarded insulation lying about the mill. Subsequent sampling found the waste insulation contained asbestos. The DNR also found that three large boilers had been removed from the boiler house building for their metal scrap value. The removal disturbed asbestos-containing material, without the area being inspected for asbestos and notification of this activity being filed with the DNR, and without proper asbestos safeguards being followed, including the wetting of the asbestos, before and after disturbance.
The complaint alleges, and on December 4, 2013, PJC pleaded no contest to violating Wisconsin's asbestos laws by failing to perform a thorough pre-demolition or renovation activity inspection of the entire facility in order to determine the presence of asbestos, failing to notify the DNR of PJC's intention to conduct renovation and demolition activity at the facility, failing to remove regulated asbestos containing material from the facility prior to activity that disturbed it, failing to sufficiently having wetted the asbestos and keeping it wetted until it was contained and failing to carefully lower the asbestos to the ground or floor during removal.
On July 30, 2014, the Honorable Dale L. English held a contested sentencing hearing. After hearing the arguments of counsel, Judge English imposed a penalty, inclusive of forfeitures, cost and surcharges of $47,272.
The violations were investigated by the Wisconsin DNR and Assistant Attorney General Steven E. Tinker represented the State. A copy of the Civil Complaint is available here.