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March 13, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Owner of Kent apartments gets prison for mishandling asbestos

The owner of a Kent apartment complex was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in prison for violating the Clean Air Act by knowingly exposing residents and workers to airborne asbestos, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Stanley Xu, 53, pleaded guilty in October for failing to protect residents of the Avante Apartments in Kent from asbestos exposure after a pipe ruptured in December 2009. Xu knew the ceiling material contained asbestos but used untrained and uncertified workers to clean up and dispose of the hazardous waste, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

The Environmental Protection Agency filed complaints against Xu and his company, Longwell Company, in 2006 for paint contamination at another King County apartment complex he owns. He was cited a year later by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for failing to conduct an asbestos survey before construction work at another complex.

In 2010, four of the company’s seven complexes had been named in asbestos-removal violations, according to state records.

“We’re not experts on this,” Xu said in an interview in 2010. “We’re business people.”

Xu again failed to protect tenants and workers after his guilty plea last year during another repair project, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The apartment tenants included families with young children, pregnant women and low-income individuals. Many of the tenants were told they were required to clean the debris, which contained asbestos, from their belongings.

In addition to prison time, Xu was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement and ordered to make a $75,000 community-service payment to the National Environmental Education Foundation. His company was fined $159,850 and placed on five years’ probation to ensure it complies with all environmental regulations.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: asbestos, Kent, Stanley Xu


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