Delaware Public Media | by Nick Ciolino
The state is penalizing a subcontractor for mishandling asbestos at the former GM plant on Boxwood Rd. in New Castle County.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) fined the Pennsylvania company EcoServices $20,000 for violating Delaware’s emission standards for hazardous air pollutants. DNREC is also charging EcoServices an additional $13,000 for the cost of the investigation.
The ruling comes months after construction workers released a video of numerous particles floating through the air at the Boxwood site. The video led to union protests and public meetings on the matter.
Dale Rutledge is a certified operator who worked on the site. A member of his work crew took the video. Rutledge says he’s not surprised EcoServices is being fined.
“We’ve been in this business a long time and we knew that what they were doing was illegal, it was very dangerous and it still could be dangerous because of the type of material that they were demoing,” he said.
Rutledge was employed by ATSM Enterprises Inc., the company that subcontracted EcoServices for asbestos abatement.
Asbestos can cause lung cancer years or decades after exposure. Rutledge worries his exposure at Boxwood could still be an issue.
“Once this does hit, if it hits, it’s all downhill,” he said. “Because there’s no cure for it. There’s no medicine for it. So I’d be stuck with this disease with no accountability or liability to those who caused it.”
The order from DNREC Sec. Sean Garvin cites EcoServices for several violations related to mishandling asbestos and failing to properly seal the work area. Rutledge says he expects a penalty from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) against EcoServices to soon follow.
Rep. John Kowolko (D-Newark) suffers from asbestos exposure. In a statement, he called the fines “a small price to pay for what could be a very expensive public health consequence.”
Harvey Hanna & Associates bought the Boxwood plant for redevelopment in 2017. In a statement, the company says it only recently learned of the issue between DNREC and EcoServices. Kowolko disputes this saying the company knew about the asbestos exposure months ago.
A spokesman for Harvey Hannah said the asbestos abatement on the site is now complete.