EPA Expert Says Asbestos Handling At Old SCT Plant Could Have Caused "Death Or Serious Bodily Harm"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An EPA expert testified Thursday in Federal Court in Chattanooga that sloppy handling of asbestos at the old Standard Coosa Thatcher plant in Ridgedale could have caused "death or serious bodily harm."

Tim Frederick acknowledged he got that phrase from government attorneys seekings jail terms for those involved in the 2003-2004 debacle that brought on a frenzied and expensive federal-led cleanup.

Judge Curtis Collier is expected to set the sentences for Don Fillers, James Mathis and David Wood when the hearing sometime after it resumes Friday morning. The hearing lasted all day Thursday with prosecutors and attorneys arguing over whether the sentences should be "enhanced."

Judge Collier ruled in favor of the defendants on several points on Thursday, limiting the range of their sentencing guidelines.

Authorities said earlier that Fillers faces a maximum 20 years and the other two defendants five years. 

The only attorney who spoke little at the hearing was former prosecutor Gary Humble, who represents Watkins Street Project LLC, the business name used by brothers Gary and Don Fillers to buy the defunct yarn mill in 2003. He told the judge the firm "is worse than broke. They're upside down on their mortgage."

Gary Fillers was also charged and he was given a six-month house arrest sentence early on in the case. He died a month ago at the age of 74.

Gary Fillers had given a statement in which he said buying the old mill was the idea of his brother, who operates Chattanooga Hardwood. He said his brother told him they could salvage items from the old mill and make a million dollars.

When they bought the mill "it was full of furniture, file cabinets and yarn. It was like they had closed the door and gone home," one attorney said.

The government charged that the Fillers brother spent as little as possible on hiring an asbestos removal firm and that much asbestos was left at the site. That was handled carelessly by workers under Mathis and Wood, it was charged.

Prosecutor Matthew Morris said untrained workers paid low wages handled asbestos by hand without any kind of protection, sometimes sweeping it up or tossing it from a second floor.

Defense attorneys argued there was no evidence that clouds of dust from the site contained dangerous asbestos fibers.   

 

 


New Chattanooga Railroad Book Will Feature 69 Chapters

A new book on Chattanooga's intriguing railroad history to be published by Chattanoogan.com will feature 69 chapters and cover rail history here and in surrounding towns. Railroads In and Around Chattanooga is due to be off the presses around the first of October. The book by Chattanoogan.com publisher John Wilson, with many photos by Chattanoogan.com photographer Wes ... (click for more)

East Ridge High School Football Field North Stands Condemned; Next Home Game To Be Moved

The main stands at the East Ridge High School football stadium have been condemned. The field was being used for pee wee football on Saturday, but the north section was roped off for safety purposes. Fans at the games were watching from metal bleachers on the opposite side. Officials said some fans had complained about the condition of the old concrete facility, including ... (click for more)

DWT Is DUI

A routine narrative of a DUI arrest report goes something like this:   The defendant was operating a motor vehicle in the 00 block of sonsoroad. The driver was weaving back and forth across the marked roadway. The defendant drove through a stop sign. Was stopped at an intersection despite the traffic light was green. Entered the lane of another vehicle and caused a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Voters Think

There are over 9,000 students who attend Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., which – in an effort to be relative -- is just a touch smaller than our UT-Chattanooga. What makes Quinnipiac unique is that it is home of The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which produces what’s called the “Q Poll” because hardly anybody knows how to pronounce “Kwin-uh-pe-ack.” The Q ... (click for more)

Ellington, Bell Win First Running Of Jasper Highlands 5K

  JASPER, Tenn. – The Chattanooga Track Club introduced its newest race on Saturday as the inaugural running of the Jasper Highlands 5K was held high atop the Cumberland Plateau.   Advertised as “the most scenic community in Marion County,” Knoxville’s Stewart Ellington put his name on the list as the first winner by covering the rolling 3.1-mile distance in 16 ... (click for more)

Baylor Sweeps Two Nashville Teams In Volleyball Saturday

Volleyball teams from Brentwood Academy and Pope John Paul II have at least one thing in common on Saturday following matches with Baylor and GPS.  They both headed back to Nashville with a win and a loss as both beat GPS and both lost to Baylor. Baylor improved to 13-1 overall and 3-0 in region play with Saturday's two wins, including a 3-1 verdict over Brentwood ... (click for more)