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Man Sentenced for Illegally Selling Asbestos Training Course Certificate

On October 19, 2009, John V. Bruce of Meriden, Connecticut pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Toxic Substance Control Act, or TSCA, in relation to asbestos.

According to U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy, of the District of Connecticut, Bruce, 39 admitted he had sold a licensed asbestos remediation certificate, for $400, to an individual who never enrolled in or attended an asbestos remediation course.

The certificate was acquired in May of 2004, reportedly by an immigrant from Honduras who had arrived in the United States scarcely two weeks previously.

Not only was the certificate given for a class not attended, but Bruce’s company, Environmental Training and Consulting, Inc.(ETCI), of Vernon and Wallingford – which had been licensed in 1998 to deliver a four-day, 32-hour asbestos worker certification course – provided the certificate at a time when ECTI’s license to provide asbestos training had been expired for more than a year.

The TSCA, as administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, mandates that individuals removing asbestos from public buildings be trained and licensed under the EPA’s Model Accreditation Plan, or MAP, and that states adopt licensing requirements at least as strict as the EPA’s.

The State of Connecticut developed its asbestos accreditation program in 1995, and the program was approved by the EPA in July of that year.

Bruce’s firm, ETCI, was licensed under Connecticut’s MAP to deliver asbestos worker, asbestos supervisor, asbestos management engineer and asbestos project fabricator training, but the license was allowed to expire on January 1, 2003, or one year and four months before Bruce, 39, sold the certificate to an immigrant worker.

ETCI also operated as an asbestos removal firm under all the categories mentioned above, and the falsified certification, dated Dec. 19, 2002, resulted in an investigation by the Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA, which handed down a possible prison term of one year and a potential fine of up to $100,000.

On January 7, Bruce was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay a fine of $800, a reduced sentence that likely reflects the fact that Bruce is known to have violated only one statute of the TSCA, unlike Longley-Jones of Syracuse, New York, which in 2006 was assessed $4 million in fines for illegally removing asbestos from public buildings over a 15-year period, using untrained staff with no protective equipment.

Asbestos, a fibrous mineral widely used during most of the 20th century in insulative materials, floor and ceiling products, mastics, glues and caulks (as well as brake pads and household items like ironing board covers) is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a fairly rare but highly lethal form of cancer of mesothelial tissues that typically lies dormant for decades before producing symptoms of sufficient severity to force patients to consult a doctor.

By the time most mesothelial tumors are diagnosed and confirmed, patients are given little more than a year to live, but this situation may change now that early diagnoses – delivered by sampling pleural fluid – provide for more immediate treatment.


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