It was dark and bitterly cold inside the former Utica Trim Automotive Plant in Shelby Township when the crew showed up to remove asbestos from the abandoned factory. There was no running water, no heat, no light. Workers wore disposable suits so thin you could see through them.
Using 25-foot lifts to cut away asbestos insulation covering pipes along the ceiling, they tossed the debris to the floor as their bosses yelled "let it fly" or "let 'er rip." By day's end, they were covered with the cancer-causing dust.
Four years after that botched job, the property owner, Indiana Metal LLC of suburban Chicago, agreed this fall to pay the state penalties of $67,500. A second company, Northern Boiler and Mechanical Contractors of Muskegon, has paid the state $30,000. Federal prosecutors, who launched their own investigation, charged four men criminally and one got prison time.
The case is part of a stepped-up effort by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and federal prosecutors against contractors and property owners who violate the...
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