Federal prosecutors have given up.

After four years of legal proceedings, prosecutors have asked a judge to dismiss the case against a private contractor and two San Diego Gas & Electric employees on allegations of violating workplace asbestos standards. The workers were accused of mismanaging an excavation project in Lemon Grove in 2000 that allegedly exposed residents to toxic materials.

The case has been a rollercoaster for everyone with rulings that overturned convictions and eliminated key evidence. I wrote about the case last month and we’ve been following this case for a few years.

SDG&E released a statement in response to the prosecution’s motion for dismissal. Here’s the statement from Debra Reed, the utility’s president and chief executive officer.

We agree with U.S. District Court Judge Sabraw that a serious miscarriage of justice occurred in connection with the 2007 trial. We welcome the government’s decision to now dismiss all of the charges against our company, employee and contractor.

Extensive air and soil testing by state, county and private experts never detected a single fiber of asbestos in the air or soil at the site. Additionally, the California Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the site is safe for residential development.

We have said all along — and the evidence has shown — that the project complied with all applicable laws and that public health was never at risk. We are pleased that this matter is finally behind us.

The case appears to have ended at the federal level, but some Lemon Grove community members are hoping to bring civil action against the company. We’ll keep you updated in the event of future developments.


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