United States v. Ben's Truck & Equip., Inc.
Citation: 17 ELR 20777
No. No. S-84-1672-MLS, 25 ERC 1295/(E.D. Cal., 05/12/1986)
The court holds that strict liability applies to civil violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the national emission standard for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for asbestos. The language and legislative history of the CAA, as well as the case law interpreting the statute and the emissions standards promulgated under it, support such a holding. To prove that defendant, who conducted a demolition operation that involved asbestos-containing material, is liable under the CAA, plaintiff must show only that the minimal threshold requirements of the asbestos NESHAP have been satisfied and that the specific criteria in the NESHAP have been violated. After holding that all of the substantive requirements of the NESHAP for asbestos were applicable to defendant's operation, the court holds that defendant violated 40 CFR § 61.146 by failing to notify EPA of its intention to conduct the demolition. The court then holds that defendant violated 40 CFR § 61.147(e) by its failure to keep all asbestos-containing material wet until packaging. The court also holdsthat plaintiff need not show that visible emissions of asbestos occurred in order to prove that defendant violated 40 CFR § 61.147(d). Liability under this regulatory provision stems from the failure to wet friable asbestos material adequately rather than from the release of visible emissions. The court next holds that 40 CFR § 61.152(b) prohibits visible asbestos emissions at a demolition operation during the collection and packaging of asbestos material, but does not prohibit visible emissions if a disposal method specified in the regulation is used. Finally, the court holds that the owner of the demolition site was not solely responsible for proper disposal of the asbestos material.
Counsel for Plaintiff
Joseph E. Maloney, U.S. Attorney
3305 Federal Bldg., 650 Capitol Mall, Sacramento CA 95814
Counsel for Defendants
1900 Gold St., Reading CA 96001