CHURCHILL (KDKA) — After Westinghouse abandoned the site, there were great expectations for the redevelopment of a sprawling property in Churchill.
But those hopes were dashed when the Allegheny County Health Department discovered what they believe was the improper and dangerous removal of literally tons asbestos from these buildings.
Now, the Health Department is fining the owners and developers, Ramesh and Vikas Jain, $1.4 million.
“This is the largest monetary fine that we’ve ever levied against an entity for an asbestos-related violation of our county rules,” Jim Kelly, of the Allegheny County Health Department, said.
The county says hundreds of thousands of feet of asbestos-laden tiles were ripped from the hallways, and then put in thinly-lined plastic garbage bags and hauled away in pick-up trucks.
The work was done by unlicensed, unprotected workers from operation called Pintura Construction, which is also being fined $450,000 for improper and unpermitted removal.
Meanwhile, the missing asbestos still has not been located.
The county has checked all landfills in the region certified to accept that kind of waste and none have, leading to fears that it’s been illegally dumped.
For weeks now, KDKA’s Andy Sheehan has been trying to contact the Jains, who also own the Motel 6 on Banksville Road. They haven’t returned calls, but they are now the focus of a criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Jains were in line for some $3 million in state development grants, but it appears that will not be forthcoming.