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Prism Response Inc. Agrees to $13,400 Civil Penalty to Settle Alleged Asbestos Abatement Violations

Export-based Prism Response Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $13,400 to settle what the company referred to as “disputed claims” by the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) that it had violated local Air Pollution Control Act regulations related to asbestos abatement.

The payment was part of a consent order and agreement between Prism Response and the ACHD finalized Sept. 22. As part of the settlement, the company further agreed to withdraw its appeal of the underlying Sept. 21, 2018 administrative order. 

That order called for Prism to pay a $20,770 civil penalty, about $7,000 of which was assessed for “intentional or reckless conduct” related to Prism’s response and water damage remediation work following a fire at the Coraopolis-based Sheraton Hotel in May 2017. 

Prism had disputed the “nature and extent” of those allegations, maintaining that it had not conducted any asbestos abatement or encapsulation work at the hotel, and cooperating as ACHD conducted a full investigation. The company provided ACHD with what health department officials deemed a “significant amount” of additional information.

As a result of those disclosures, ACHD agreed to remove the penalties assessed for intentional and reckless acts, determining that “the findings in the administrative order are not representative of the full facts and actions of Prism,” according to the settlement.

The consent order also indicates that Prism denied and continued to deny the facts of the case, as well as the violations alleged in the administrative order, maintaining that it was not liable for civil penalties.

“It is agreeing to the obligations imposed…solely to settle the disputed claims without incurring the time and expense of additional litigation,” according to the agreement.

Health officials said asbestos-related enforcement actions are on the rise. Why does that matter? Because asbestos refers to a group of naturally occurring, fibrous minerals that can cause severe breathing issues and even cancer. 

During demolition and some building renovations projects, old, brittle asbestos products can release tiny – even microscopic – fibers. These colorless, odorless fibers can remain suspended in the air, entering the lungs when you inhale.

Editor’s Note: You can read the entire settlement agreement here. The administrative order filed against Prism was one of several related to the response to and cleanup following the Sheraton Hotel fire. You can read more about those cases on the ACHD administrative appeals docket.

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