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Asbestos, which includes several naturally occurring fibrous minerals, was for many years a popular commercial product and building material valued especially for its strength and resistance to fire and corrosion. In the United States, asbestos was used in insulation as early as 1870. Its commercial use for fireproofing, thermal insulation, and acoustical surfacing materials increased significantly during the early 1900s and peaked between World War II and the early 1970s. At that time, federal, state, and local governments began to enact laws and issue regulations in response to increasing concerns over the potential health effects of asbestos exposure. These regulatory programs cover a range of potential asbestos applications, including asbestos that remains present in many public and commercial buildings built prior to the 1980s.

Today, MGKF provides clients with advice and representation regarding the wide range of regulatory programs addressing asbestos. These include, among others:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") asbestos hazard communication requirements applicable to owners of public and commercial buildings;
  • OSHA worker protection standards for asbestos exposure;
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants ("NESHAP") regulations applicable to building demolitions and renovations;
  • EPA requirements for management of asbestos in schools under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act ("AHERA"); and
  • EPA rules for accreditation of inspectors and other personnel involved with asbestos activities in schools and public and commercial buildings pursuant to the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act ("ASHARA").

We regularly counsel clients regarding their asbestos obligations, perform asbestos regulatory compliance audits for various types of building owners, and assist in developing asbestos operation and maintenance ("O&M") plans to facilitate uniform compliance across multi-facility operations. MGKF represents clients in negotiating contracts with consultants and contractors for asbestos inspection and removal services. In addition, the firm advises clients on agency notifications related to demolition and renovation work. We also represent clients in agency enforcement actions related to asbestos issues.

Photo © Oleg Gerasymenko | Dreamstime.com

Representative asbestos matters handled by the firm include the following:

  • MGKF counseled a national retail chain on regulatory requirements applicable to building and facility owners for providing notice to housekeeping employees and others of the presence of asbestos-containing materials in stores pursuant the federal OSHA program and OSHA-approved state programs.
  • We represented a demolition contractor in negotiating favorable settlement of an agency enforcement action alleging failure to provide pre-demolition NESHAP notifications to EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
  • The firm assisted a university in negotiating successful settlement of an OSHA enforcement action regarding OSHA's asbestos pre-renovation notification obligations.
  • MGKF counseled a telecommunications client on the applicability of OSHA's asbestos construction industry standard, and worked with the client and its consultant to evaluate potential workplace asbestos exposure and develop asbestos awareness training materials.
  • We provided counseling and guidance to a luxury retail shopping mall owner regarding asbestos management and disclosure obligations.