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.   

 

 


East Ridge Council Approves Purchase Of Site For Displaced Fire Hall; To Look At Updated Sign Ordinance, Controls On Pawn Shops

The East Ridge City Council on Thursday night voted 5-0 to purchase a site of about two acres on St. Thomas Avenue for a location for the displaced fire hall that was at the entrance to Camp Jordan Park. That fire hall had to be dismantled recently because it was in the way of the Jordan Crossing development, which will feature a Bass Pro Shop. The site, which is behind a ... (click for more)

BOOST Summit Postponed Due To The Weather

Friday morning’s BOOST Summit at the VW plant has been postponed due to weather conditions.  The annual economic development and education summit is an event of the Enterprise Council of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce.  “With predictions of iced over roads and many participants attending to out-of-school children, we decided to postpone BOOST for a few weeks,” ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Always Been A Battleground Between Good And Evil

From the thousands slain in nearby Chickamauga Battlefield during the Civil War…  To the launching point of the Cherokee Indian’s Trail of Tears…  To the lunch counter sit-ins led by Howard School students — the only high school student sit-ins in the nation — during the Civil Rights Movement…  To Walter Cronkite calling the polluted Southern industrial town ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: They Are Americans, Too

Roger Dean Kiser is something of a legend. Aside from being one of the best story-tellers I know of – I’ve read his works for years – the fact he came upon it honest, like Chattanooga’s Roger Allan Wade, makes him kind of special. Again, I’ve followed him for a long time. By the time he was four, he had been abandoned by parents and grandparents alike. The state of Florida placed ... (click for more)

Baylor Girls Lose In State Basketball Semifinals, 69-61

NASHVILLE -- The third time wasn't the charm for the Baylor Lady Red Raiders. Facing the Brentwood Academy Lady Eagles in the semifinals of the D-II Class AA girls state basketball tournament at Lipscomb University, Baylor came up short for the third time this season against the Lady Eagles by a 69-61 final score. It was a see-saw affair with seven ties and 13 lead changes, ... (click for more)

Region 3-AAA To Play Friday With Earlier Start Times

The Region 3-AAA basketball tournament, despite schools being closed, will resume on Friday at Ooltewah High School with four semifinal games on the schedule. While the matchups remain the same, start time for the games have been moved up to 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., Ooltewah athletic director Jesse Nayadley said. While schools will be closed on Friday, Nayadley ... (click for more)