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Trumbull Man Sentenced For Illegally Removing Asbestos

The 200 block of Wallace Street in New Haven.
The 200 block of Wallace Street in New Haven. Photo Credit: Google Maps

A property owner who illegally removed asbestos from a Connecticut will avoid prison time after being sentenced in New Haven federal court.

Aleks Rakaj, 46, of Trumbull, was sentenced to a term of one-year probation and fined $9,500 after pleading guilty in May to one count of illegal asbestos removal in violation of the Clean Air Act.

Rakaj and his two cousins purchased a commercial property at 206-220 Wallace St. in New Haven, U.S. Attorney John Durham said. Before purchasing the property, the trio was informed that the property contained asbestos.

Shortly after purchasing the property, Rakaj and his cousins failed to follow laws and regulations regarding asbestos removal, which resulted in exposure to some at the site who suffered negative health effects as a result.

On Nov. 20, 2015, inspectors from the New Haven Health Department conducted an unannounced inspection, where they discovered the illegal asbestos removal project. The inspection found multiple instances of illegal removal of asbestos-containing “air cell” pipe wrap and asbestos-containing “mag block” tank and boiler insulation.

Durham said that the workers failed to abide by legally required safety measures, failed to perform necessary wetting and failed to dispose of the asbestos-containing waste material at appropriate disposal sites. Inspectors also observed and photographed Upwards of 150 standard garbage bags filled with unlabeled, unwetted asbestos-containing material.

Rakaj’s cousins, Rezart Rakaj, of Ansonia, and Kliton Rakaj, of Monroe, previously pleaded guilty to the same offense.  On April 1, they were each sentenced to one year of probation, a fine of $9,500, and 50 hours of community service.

“The illegal removal of asbestos insulation and the associated removal of scrap pipe and boilers from old buildings continues to be a problem throughout the Northeast,” EPA-Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon said.  “Inhalation of asbestos fibers can result in lung cancer and it therefore poses significant health risks to all exposed.  EPA will continue to hold accountable those who commit such offenses.”

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