The preceding chapters have discussed many of the most important, and most used, environmental statutes. A host of other statutes, however, may apply to a given situation. Most of these statutes are administered by either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (EPD).
This section includes a high-level overview of another law you may encounter in pursuing environmental justice. This law may have exemptions or nuances that are beyond the scope of this section. If you have questions, please reach out to a lawyer for assistance. In addressing any environmental justice issue, one of your first tasks will be to determine which of these laws might apply to the situation you are facing.
Georgia Asbestos Safety Act
(O.C.G.A. §§ 12-12-1 to -21)
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is resistant to heat and corrosion. Because of these properties, asbestos was historically added to products to increase their strength and provide heat insulation and fire resistance. When disturbed, microscopic asbestos fibers become airborne and can be inhaled, causing them to become permanently trapped in the lungs. The build-up of asbestos in the lungs causes serious health problems such as lung disease and cancer.
The Asbestos Safety Act (ASA) is a state law enacted to protect public health, safety, and the environment by establishing licensing, training, and project notification requirements for contractors engaged in the removal or encapsulation of asbestos from facilities or residential dwellings.
Under the Act, only contractors who are licensed by satisfying specific training requirements and paying licensing fees can perform this type of work.
The law requires that contractors notify EPD of asbestos removal or encapsulation projects prior to commencing the activity. Under the Act, EPD has the authority to inspect and sample project sites for compliance with the regulation and asbestos handling guidelines. If the agency determines that the site is not in compliance, a cease and desist order may be issued. Civil penalties up to $25,000 per day may also be assessed for failure to comply.
Citizen involvement in this act is limited to notifying EPD if you think someone is acting without a license or not following the proper removal or encapsulation procedures.
If you have reason to think someone is improperly removing asbestos from a building or exposing workers to asbestos, you can contact EPD and ask them to investigate. The ASA is administered by the Land Protection Branch of EPD.
For more information, call the Asbestos Division Duty Officer at (404) 363-7026 or reach out to:
Jennifer Vogel, Unit Coordinator
Georgia Environmental Protection Division
Lead-Based Paint and Asbestos Program
Telephone: (404) 363-7043