Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

Asbestos-removal firms facing record fines

The Clark County Health District wants to levy the largest air pollution penalty in its history against two contractors it says botched an asbestos removal job at an apartment complex.

The former Sierra Nevada Arms Apartments, built in West Las Vegas in the 1960s became part of a congressional investigation in 1994 as one of the most poorly maintained public housing complexes in the country subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The complex was located on 30 acres off Lake Mead Boulevard between Rancho Drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Raw sewage flowing near children's play areas was stopped and broken glass and other debris was swept away after the 1994 probe, but then came the asbestos cleanup.

The Health District worked for more than a year to bring the environmental violations against the asbestos removal crews, Air Pollution Control Director Michael Naylor said Thursday.

The consultant on the job, CT&E Environmental Services, Inc., is facing an $80,000 fine under a settlement agreed to on Thursday. The company has not yet signed the agreement, Naylor said. The company failed to have a trained person on the site during asbestos removal, according to the complaint.

Health District enforcement officer Laymon McGaughey discovered asbestos-containing wastes at the site in July 1998.

The second contractor, Desert Environmental, Inc., could face higher fines, Naylor said. The company failed a Health District inspection in July 1998.

Inspectors said Desert Environmental failed to contain asbestos-laced wastes in the buildings, Naylor said.

The Health District's complaint alleges that asbestos that could become airborne was visible at inspection, plastic covering windows and doors to keep asbestos contained was torn and contaminated with the white substance and asbestos-containing debris littered the ground.

Desert Environmental will appear before hearing officer Judith Schill at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Air Pollution Annex Building, 625 Shadow Lane. A second hearing will be scheduled to set penalties.

The previous highest fine levied by the Health District involved Central Environmental, Inc., which settled for $52,000 in 1995 after inspectors discovered open bags of asbestos at the former Landmark hotel-casino at Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive. Subcontractor Ab-Haz Environmental was fined $18,000 in a settlement.