asbestos & homeless workers: EPA Administrator's remarks on case

Tom Boland (
Sun, 10 May 1998 18:47:43 -0700 (PDT)

From:         GROUP PRESS 202-260-4355 <>
Date:         1998/04/24
Message-ID:   <>


     EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner and Attorney General Janet Reno
held a press conference today announcing the indictment of three men with
conspiring to hire homeless workers to illegally remove
     A statement is attached and related materials can be obtained through
the Internet at:


Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Asbestos Case:  Homeless Workers

EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner
Washington DC
April 24, 1998

Thank you Attorney General Reno. Thank you all for coming.

     Today's indictment sends a clear message: The Clinton-Gore
Administration will call to account anyone who violates our nation's
environmental laws. We especially will call to account those who place at
risk the health and safety of vulnerable people.

     What we do today is both punishment and prevention. We want to send a
loud signal to those who are even thinking of preying on the vulnerable and
jeopardizing their health: We will prosecute you to the full extent of the

     Asbestos is a very real, very dangerous health threat. Its fibers are
sharp. When inhaled, they work themselves deep into the lungs. Over a long
period -- 20 to 40 years -- the irritation from the fibers can evolve into
something far worse: an often-fatal lung disease known as asbestosis, lung
cancer, and mesothelioma, or cancer of the chest lining.

     Asbestos was used in almost all building construction before 1950.
Between 1940 and 1980, 27 million Americans had significant occupational
exposure to asbestos. While we have made progress, today asbestos still
poses a public health threat.

     To guarantee strong public health protection, EPA continues to
strictly regulate the removal of asbestos. We require employers to train
asbestos workers and follow proper health and safety procedures.

     But in several cases reported across the country, some asbestos
contractors are showing a callous disregard of the law, the health of their
workers, and the communities in which they work. These unscrupulous
contractors are using the homeless and dayworkers to illegally strip

     EPA has joined with the Department of Justice and the Department of
Housing and Urban Development to post an advisory in homeless shelters and
transitional housing for the homeless across the country. We are warning
unsuspecting people that their health and safety is in grave danger from
these violators of the law.

     We will be working with the National Coalition for the Homeless to
ensure that those providing services to the homeless are fully aware of the
problem -- and we have a number they can call: 1-800-368-5888.

     The Clinton-Gore Administration is committed to the basic proposition
of equal environmental protection for everyone -- regardless of income.
Each and every one of us is entitled to safe drinking water, clean air to
breathe, safe land upon which to live.

     EPA has 190 criminal investigators working on environmental crimes
around the country, including those in minority and low-income
neighborhoods. We prosecute to the full extent of the law. Strong
enforcement ensures strong, safe, healthy communities.

     It is a sad day when greed governs. It is a sad day when one person
profits by exploiting another.

     Every American deserves to live in the cleanest, safest, healthiest
community possible. And we will use the full force of our enforcement
authority to ensure this for all citizens of this country.

     Thank you.


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