The owner of a U.S. Virgin Islands asbestos removal company has been sentenced to three years in prison and an additional three years probation for his role in the improper removal of the material at a housing project in St. Thomas.
According to an Associated Press article, Cleve Allen George, the owner of the Virgin Islands Asbestos Removal Co., was convicted of breaking federal environmental laws, including violations of the Clean Air Act, and making false statements about air monitoring at a St. Thomas housing project that was demolished in 2001. His partner, Dylan C. Starnes of Atlanta, was given an identical sentence last July.
According to reports, the two men used a power washer to strip thousands of square feet of asbestos-containing materials from the structures. Fibers from the material washed out over the ground and, in many cases, made their way into the sewer systems. George, a licensed abatement professional, was aware that this was an illegal way to remove asbestos from the soon-to-be-demolished homes, but continued nonetheless.
George knew “how to safely remove asbestos and chose to ignore those safe methods in lieu of a bigger profit,” said Ronald J. Tenpas of the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division before he pronounced the sentence at a court in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie.