Boise-based company fined for asbestos violations near Orofino

OROFINO, ID - The Environmental Protection Agency is asking an Idaho state entity to pay more than $3,000,000.

They want to be paid for cleaning up contaminated sites near Orofino.
Morgan Aguilar looks into the costly lawsuit, and the contamination caused by a Boise-based company.

Contamination at 16 different sites... That could've been prevented.

"If they would've followed the specifications of the contract, there would not have been this issue," said Attorney Susan Buxton.

Riverside Water and Sewer District set out to replace aging and undersized pipes in Orofino. The $3 million project went to the lowest bidder, Boise-based Owyhee Construction. Contract documents warned that the company may run into cement asbestos pipe, or CAP.

"If you crush and bury asbestos pipe in place, it never becomes a pollutant," said Buxton. "Technically since it came out of the trench, it is a pollutant."

When those pipes are broken open by heavy equipment... Out comes airborne fibers, and a public health threat. Owyhee Construction's on-site manager and foreman pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act, and were sentenced to six months in prison.

The EPA has contained all the CAP from all 16 sites effected. CAP from 15 of them is contained right here, in what some call the great wall of Orofino.

A four-million dollar clean-up... That the EPA now wants Riverside Water and Sewer District, and therefore the district's customers, to pay for.

"The bigger issue is who's going to pay for it, and we don't believe the people of Orofino should have to pay twice for it," said Buxton.

The EPA tested all the areas that were originally affected by the asbestos pipe and said there is no longer any health threat in the area.

Our calls to Owyhee Construction Incorporated were not returned.