Two employees of utilities giant San Diego Gas and Electric and a contracted worker were accused of violating asbestos work practice standards when they supervised the ripping out of 9.2 miles of underground piping at a former gas holding facility on the land.
Today, one of those employees, David “Willy” Williamson, and the contractor’s employee, Kyle Rhuebottom, were each found guilty of one count of violating asbestos work practice standards. SDG&E was found guilty of three counts of violating asbestos work practice standards and one count of making false statements.
Here’s some quotes from the U.S. Attorney’s Office press release:
United States Attorney Hewitt stated, “This case reaffirms our commitment to enforce the environmental laws of the United States and to protect the health and safety of the citizens of the Southern District of California.”
“SDG&E put the public at risk by improperly removing more than forty thousand linear feet of potentially cancer-causing asbestos,” said Granta Nakayama, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s convictions show that financial gain will not come before one’s obligation to obey the law.”
FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Kathy D. Leodler commented, “The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate and pursue the most egregious environmental offenders to bring them before the bar of justice. Today’s verdict is a victory for the citizenry of San Diego and a vindication for the citizens of Lemon Grove.”
The defendants will appear in court for further proceedings on Sept. 6.
(Correction: The original post incorrectly identified Kyle Rhuebottom as an employee of SDG&E. He is actually an employee of a private contractor who contracted with SDG&E for the removal of the asbestos-containing pipe from the Lemon Grove site.)