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San Francisco Woman Pleads Guilty to Presence of Asbestos

A woman from San Francisco has pleaded guilty to concealing the presence of asbestos in the Mississippi Queen steamboat.

Chiu and her company, Cheery Way Inc. faced a federal charge under the Clean Air Act as they knew the boat had asbestos in it but did not tell a Pierre Part demolition contractor. She faces two years in jail, up to five years probation and large fines.

Removal of asbestos is heavily regulated, in large part because exposure to asbestos fibers can cause respiratory problems and rare cancers.

The 376-foot Mississippi Queen which began its life in 1976 was sold for scrap in October 2010 to a California company owned by Chiu in October 2010. The company arranged for tests on the boat and discovered asbestos in the walls and ceiling of the ship but did not tell the regulators nor the demolition company, Argosy Boat Co, in Pierre Part. The demolition company had no prior asbestos abatement experience and was not a certified asbestos abatement contractor. Workers started demolition without being required to take safety precautions.

Following a tip off the Department of Environment became involved and the prosecution followed.

Sentencing is due in May this year.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an asbestos related disease, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, contact the Law Office of Brayton Purcell, LLP  at (800) 598-0314 immediately, or contact us online for a free consultation. You may be entitled to an asbestos payout as part of an individual or class action lawsuit.