|By Karen Dillon, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 26, 2007--A hotel management corporation will pay $300,000 in penalties for illegally removing asbestos during a remodeling project last year at the former Clarion Hotel near Kansas City International Airport.
It would have cost Hulsing Hotels, Missouri Inc. only $35,000 to properly clean up the asbestos, a defense attorney said Monday in response to questions from U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple.
Daniel Hulsing, the project manager, entered a guilty plea for the corporation for a violation of the Clean Air Act.
The Hulsing corporation admitted to knowingly removing asbestos illegally from the Clarion Hotel last year during a two-month remodeling project, the plea agreement stated. The Clarion Hotel has been sold and renamed the Four Points by Sheraton.
The plea agreement said the Hulsing corporation would pay $100,000 Monday and pay an additional $100,000 within the next year. In addition, an agreement with the state of Missouri that will require Hulsing to pay a $100,000 civil penalty is being finalized, the agreement said.
Daniel Hulsing declined to comment after the hearing. He was represented by J.R. Hobbs, a criminal defense attorney.
"This substantial criminal penalty should serve as a reminder that all property owners need to comply with federal asbestos-removal requirements," said John F. Wood, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Also Monday, Kansas City Health Department officials said Del R. Hedgepath, owner of the Congress Building at 3535 Broadway, has been cited with five asbestos violations.
The notices of violation state that after the Health Department received an anonymous call earlier this month, asbestos-containing materials were found throughout a public garage in the Congress Building, said Mike Manning, manager of the department's air quality program.
A large debris pile containing asbestos-containing materials was found in the lower garage area, according to the notices of violation.
The owner has 10 working days to respond.
In the Clarion case, the city's air quality program also received an anonymous call. In March last year, the caller said untrained workers were removing asbestos-containing ceiling material from the hotel's hallways.
When an inspector arrived at the hotel at 11832 N.W. Plaza Circle, he discovered a construction renovation project under way while workers, hotel employees and guests were coming and going unprotected from the asbestos.
The project had been under way for 60 days. The Health Department ordered the hotel shut down.
Daniel Hulsing acknowledged to investigators that he was not licensed to remove asbestos nor did he have a licensed asbestos abatement contractor.
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