After an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a Kankakee real estate developer and two associates were charged with felony offenses under the Clean Air Act for alleged violations relating to the removal, handling and disposal of asbestos from a Kankakee building in August 2009. Michael J. Pinski, Duane L. “Butch” O’Malley, and James A. Mikrut face charges in connection with the August 2009 removal of asbestos from 197 S. West Ave., in Kankakee.
The indictment alleges that the three men violated provisions of the Clean Air Act and the federal asbestos regulations, including: failure to notify the EPA prior to the removal; failure to have present during the removal any on-site representatives who were trained to comply with EPA’s regulations for asbestos removal; failure to ensure the asbestos insulation was adequately wetted while it was being stripped and removed; failure to mark vehicles used to transport the asbestos-containing waste material during the loading and unloading of the waste with signs that included the words “DANGER,” “ASBESTOS DUST HAZARD,” “CANCER AND LUNG DISEASE HAZARD” and “Authorized Personnel Only”; and, failure to deposit the asbestos in a waste disposal site for asbestos. Instead, the indictment alleges that the asbestos insulation was placed in approximately 127 large, unlabeled plastic garbage bags, which O’Malley directed Mikrut to dump, and on Aug. 23, 2009, Mikrut and another individual allegedly drove to a field in Hopkins Park, where they dumped the bags of insulation in an open field, resulting in asbestos contamination in the soil.
Hopkins Park is a largely African-American town and one of the poorest communities in Kankakee County. The allegations fit a pattern of hazardous waste dumping identified by several scholars, among them Robert Bullard, Eileen McGurty, and David Pellow.
The Sustainability Studies program at Roosevelt University investigates the social and economic dimensions of legal and illegal waste handling in several courses, including this fall’s offering of SUST 210 Sustainable Future: Environment, Economy, Equity, taught by Professor Carl Zimring at the downtown campus. If you are interested in enrolling, find out more by calling 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU), or emailing applyRU@roosevelt.edu.