Two Baltimore-area landlords, their property managers and a heating contractor have been fined a total of $40,000 by the state for allegedly illegal removal of asbestos insulation from two rented homes.
The Maryland Department of the Environment cited Thelma Castleman, owner of a rented house in the 2700 block Tivoly Ave. in the city. State inspectors called by the tenant there found that about 130 square feet of asbestos insulation had been removed from the basement.
Michael Sullivan, a state spokesman, said no precautions were taken to protect the home's occupants or the workers from inhaling asbestos fibers, which can cause lung disease and cancer.
Also cited were representatives of Paul Shapiro & Sons, the property's manager, and of Dennison Plumbing & Heating Co. The contractor was not licensed to remove asbestos, Mr. Sullivan said. The three parties were fined a total of $20,000 by the state.
Morton Shapiro, one of the property's managers, said they had appealed the fine, which he called "unbelievable." Mr. Shapiro said that some asbestos was accidentally scraped off by a plumber's helper, but that once the problem surfaced a licensed contractor was called in to clean up the house.
The state also levied $20,000 in fines against Ajaz Ahmad Janjua and Riaz Janjua, owners of a rental home in the 6100 block of Old Frederick Road in Baltimore County, and the property's manager, Javed Ahmad Aizaz.
Asbestos insulation was removed without safety precautions from pipes in the Baltimore County home, Mr. Sullivan said. The property's owners had been told by the Baltimore County health department to hire a licensed asbestos abatement contractor but did not do so, Mr. Sullivan said.
"We really didn't do anything wrong," said Alan J. Hoff, a lawyer representing Mr. Aizaz. He said his client had appealed the citation and fine, which he called "totally out of line."