Lawrence developer in violation of Clean Air Act, jury says

A jury on Tuesday found a Lawrence developer guilty on charges of disposing of asbestos in violation of the Clean Air Act. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said 53-year-old Thomas S. Fritzel was convicted of failing to notify authorities before removing asbestos, failing to keep asbestos wet during demolition to prevent air contamination and failing to dispose of asbestos in leak-tight containers.

During trial, the government presented evidence that Fritzel violated federal laws for handling asbestos during demolition and renovations at the Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence. The government presented evidence to show that Fritzel knew that the roof of the country club contained 75 percent chrysotile asbestos. The previous owners, who sold the club to Fritzel in January 2016, had decided not to replace the roof because of the cost of abating the asbestos.

On October 19, 2016, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment told Fritzel to get a licensed asbestos contractor to remove asbestos from the site and dispose of it properly. On Oct. 25, 2016, KDHE inspected the site and determined asbestos debris had been removed and hauled to Hamm Landfill in Perry, which is not approved for asbestos disposal.

Sentencing will be set for a later date. He faces a penalty of up to two years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the failure to notify count and up to five years and a fine up to $250,000 on the other two counts.