Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that between November 2012 and April 2013, Farmer and others working for Farmer demolished portions of Haynsworth Mill, located at 2115 McDuffie Street, Anderson, SC, in order to sell scrap metal from the building. The materials in the building contained hazardous levels of asbestos. Farmer was repeatedly warned by South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to stop his demolition efforts because of the danger. Farmer continued tearing down the building and failed to take required precautions to safeguard his workers, individuals to whom he sold the metal from the Mill, and the public. On March 14, 2013, an Emergency Order was issued against Farmer to cease all activities on the site due to the hazardous levels of asbestos. In April of 2013, DHEC inspectors again located Farmer and another conducting demolition work on the contaminated site.
"Exposure to asbestos can cause serious health problems and in some cases may prove fatal,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in South Carolina. “The defendant’s actions threatened not only the environment but the safety of his workers and the surrounding community. EPA and its law enforcement counterparts take seriously our obligation to investigate these violations and prosecute to protect the public's well-being." United States Bill Nettles stated, "The United States Attorney's Office is committed to protecting the citizens of South Carolina and our natural resources from hazardous pollutants such as asbestos. Our office will continue to prioritize the environmental work we do with both federal and state agencies, to ensure that our state is protected and others are deterred from breaking the law.."
The case was investigated by agents of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Environmental Control of South Carolina. Assistant United States Attorney Jamie Lea Schoen of the Greenville office prosecuted the case.
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