Anderson man charged with polluting air with asbestos - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Anderson man charged with polluting air with asbestos

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ANDERSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Anderson man is in trouble with the federal government, the U.S. Attorney's office says Scott William Farmer is facing several air pollution charges.  

Officials say he knowingly released asbestos, a lung cancer causing pollutant into the air. According to his indictment, it all happened when he hired a crew to help him strip an old mill site of metal for money.

Mother and daughter Leslie Debereaux and Caprice Walker have lived across from the old Haynesworth Mill in Anderson for quite some time. They say it was months ago they began noticing some strange activity.

"They were banging over there at 2 or 3 a.m., hours people are supposed to be asleep," said Walker. "So that raised an alarm, it didn't seem right, something wasn't right."

Thursday an indictment was filed by the U.S. Attorney's office that confirmed their fears.

Not only do officials say illegal activity took place at the mill, but the alleged actions spread asbestos into the air and put a lot of people's health at risk.

The man in charge of the construction work, Scott William Farmer, 37, now faces nine charges.

Officials say he failed to conduct an inspection for asbestos before he began stripping the site, he also didn't alert the state of his construction plans. According to the indictment, even after DHEC attempted to intervene and gave Farmer four verbal cease and desist orders, he continued working on the site without taking proper precautions.

The indictment says DHEC tested the area, and found asbestos in the materials from the site. They alerted Farmer of their findings but say he continued to keep his crews working in the area. Further tests by DHEC confirmed that Farmer and his crews work had spread the dangerous pollutant.

The indictment says asbestos was "dropped, thrown or otherwise inappropriately disturbed." Farmer and his crew's work on the site began in October 2012 and ended in April of 2013.

The woman who live just yards from the mill said they witnessed workers attempting to take metal from the site using uhauls and SUVs, with no idea how dangerous it was.

"They were just out there with no masks, tearing metal and stuff up and tearing the metal down," said Debereaux.

Now, the woman is worried for the health and future of their neighborhood.

"I have two children in my house, yes I'm concerned, I'm very concerned," said Walker.

They say they just can't believe a man knowingly spread asbestos into the air next to their home on several occasions.

"That's not right, I feel like he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law because that's unacceptable," said Walker.   

Scott William Farmer could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the nine federal charges he faces.

The state has also filed three charges against him, those carry a maximum of 17 years in prison.

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