A Des Moines company has agreed to pay a record 500-thousand dollar fine to settle a lawsuit by the state over alleged violations of rules for the handling of asbestos. A spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General, Bob Brammer, says the lawsuit involved the renovation of the historic Equitable Building between 2005 and 2008.
Brammer says they allege the company "completely ignored" stringent requirements for handling asbestos containing materials for many months, which he says is a "very serious violation." Brammer says the top 13 floors of the building were being renovated and the bottom six floors were still occupied at the time. He says mishandling asbestos can have some serious consequences.
He says when the asbestos material gets crushed or pulverized, it can get in the air and the fibers can cause lung problems or cancer. Brammer says the Equitable Limited Partnership agreed to the fine to settle the lawsuit. Brammer says the $500,000 civil penalty is the largest for any asbestos violation in the state with the next largest he can recall was $10,000.
The Equitable Building was completed in 1924, and for 49 years it was the tallest building in Iowa.