Company faces $400,000 fine in asbestos case

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A federal judge could fine a Dillsburg construction company nearly half a million dollars for failing to properly remove asbestos from the site of a planned elementary school.

Frank Eichelberger, president of Lobar Inc., signed an agreement for the company to plead guilty to one count of violating the Clean Air Act in a federal criminal case Wednesday.

Terms of the deal call for Lobar to face a $400,000 fine, three years probation and an order for the business to create an environmental compliance health and safety program, as well as a procedure for employees to report environmental violations, court documents show. Five other counts against the company would be dismissed.

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Lobar was hired in December 2014 as the general contractor on a project to demolish a former weaving mill and build a new elementary school for the Berwick Area School District in Luzerne and Columbia counties. Before work started, findings from environmental assessments were shared with Lobar and its subcontractors, identifying hazardous substances including asbestos in the former mill, according to details in the federal indictment.

The project got underway in January 2015, with the case alleging Lobar and other defendants began demolishing the mill before the asbestos was properly removed. The work continued until U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff halted the project in February 2015, court documents show.

The criminal case was filed in January 2020 against Lobar and six co-defendants. They include: Dennis Charles Jr., Lobar’s construction superintendent on the project; Bloomsburg-based M&J Excavation Inc., a land-preparation services company that served as a subcontractor; and John Sidari Jr., the company’s co-owner. They face the same counts Lobar faced.

Also indicted are: York-based First Capital Insulation Inc., another subcontractor hired to asbestos abatement; the company’s co-owner, Francis Yingling Jr.; and Ty Barnett, whom First Capital employed to serve as a project supervisor. They also face counts of failing to properly remove the asbestos, court documents show.

Though Lobar has pleaded guilty, the co-defendants remain scheduled to go to trial in the case in June 2022, the U.S. District Attorney’s office said in a news release.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.