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San Diego Gas and Electric Convicted for Improper Asbestos Removal


A federal jury in San Diego found San Diego Gas and Electric Company guilty on three counts of violating asbestos work practice standards and one count of making false statements on July 13. The charges relate to the company’s removal of asbestos from 9.23 miles of underground piping at the former Encanto Gas Holder facility in Lemon Grove, Calif., in 2000 and 2001.

In addition, Kyle Rhuebottom, the project manager for the prime contractor on the site, and David Williamson, a company employee, were each found guilty of one count of violating asbestos work practice standards.

According to court documents, the company knew the piping at the Encanto facility was coated with asbestos, based on analytical testing. Once the company decided to sell the property, they solicited bids for demolition and removal of the asbestos-coated piping. Despite knowing that the piping coating contained asbestos, the company began removing the pipe wrap without treating it as regulated asbestos containing material.

The jury found that the company, Rhuebottom and Williamson failed to contain the asbestos or place it in a leak proof container. The jury also found that the company failed to provide adequate notice in advance of the asbestos removal, failed to adequately wet the asbestos during removal, and falsely claimed that a company employee was a certified asbestos consultant.

Asbestos is made up of microscopic bundles of fibers that may become airborne when asbestos-containing materials are damaged or disturbed. When these fibers get into the air they may be inhaled into the lungs, where they can cause significant health problems, including death.

The defendants are scheduled to appear before United States District Judge Dana M. Sabraw, Southern District of California, on Sept. 6, 2007 for further proceedings.


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