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.   

 

 



HCSO Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (FAST) Apprehends 2 Wanted Fugitives

Members of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (FAST) located and apprehended two wanted fugitives in Hamilton County on Friday. In an attempt to locate them, several digital wanted posters were circulated this week over social media and the HCSO Facebook page with information pertaining to the two fugitives and their charges. Nicholas ... (click for more)

Home In East Lake Damaged By Fire Friday Evening

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at  3915 6th Avenue  in East Lake at  8:53 p.m.  on Friday. Captain McMillian with Engine 9 was  first on the scene and he reported fire showing from a room at the rear corner of the structure. All occupants were reported to be out of the house. As more crews arrived, Firefighters made ... (click for more)

The Right To Bear Arms, But Not Assault Rifles - And Response (2)

I am not a bleeding heart, liberal, left leaning, anti-second amendment person. I am a politically moderate conservative who believes in the right to bear arms, but not assault rifles. I am also a retired school principal who is tired of seeing innocent children slaughtered in our schools. I am also tired of nothing being done. Yes, mental health should be considered when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It wasn’t lost on me that during Valentine Week, when we most remember those we love, this first story was included in my weekly email. As has become my habit, every Saturday I try to come up with a new edition of The Saturday Funnies because I get some delightful ones that are shared by my friends during the week. We must never waste a giggle. So in keeping with my ... (click for more)

Cleveland Still Leading State Wrestling

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – We’re down to the medal rounds here at the TSSAA traditional state wrestling tournament at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park, but nobody has conceded anything to anyone so far. It’s a really close race in two of the three races, but anyone who knows anything about the sport of wrestling will tell you that those last two consolation rounds ... (click for more)

Bradley Can't Keep Up With McMinn's Jones In 5-3A Tourney, 55-54

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – McMinn County senior Taurean Jones was tardy for school Friday. As it turned out, rival Bradley Central paid a heavy price for Jones’ transgression on the basketball court several hours later. McMinn County coach Ed Clendenen dished out the disciplinary penalty and Jones sat out the first quarter of Friday’s District 5-3A basketball tournament game ... (click for more)