A man in West Des Moines, Iowa faces prison time and huge fines for violating the Clean Air Act. After pleading guilty for conspiring to avoid Clean Air Act regulations while renovating a 10-storey building in downtown Des Moines between 2005 and 2008, a district court sentenced Bobby Joe Knapp to spend 41 months in prison. The judge also sentenced the former owner of the Equitable Building to perform 300 hours of community service, pay a $12,500 fine to the court, and pay an additional $200 for every victim of his environmental crime.

Mr. Knapp dumped construction waste in an uncovered dumpster, increasing the risk of asbestos-laden dust circulating in the air. He also failed to protect workers from asbestos exposure by denying them protective gear. Long since banned from building projects in almost every country in the world, asbestos can cause serious respiratory diseases and cancer. Convicting Mr. Knapp to prison for an environmental crime sets a powerful precedent.

“Ignoring the safeguards put into place to protect workers and the public from the risk of exposure to asbestos is inexcusable,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and sends a strong warning to anyone thinking of cutting corners to save money at the expense of people’s health.”


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