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Santa Barbara County prosecutors say they reach settlement in case of toxic substance removal

Torsten Sammet
Investigators say teams removing asbestos need to ware protective gear, and dispose of the waste in special ways to prevent hazards.

Investigators say old floor removed from a Santa Maria warehouse contained asbestos, but debris was just thrown into open dumpsters.

A truck and trailer rental company will pay more than $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit over the improper removal of toxic materials from a Central Coast warehouse.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors say in 2019, U-Haul of California removed about 20,000 square feet of flooring from its Santa Maria warehouse. Someone reported the work to authorities. Santa Barbara County officials say they found broken tiles and debris in open dumpsters.

The county officials say the debris contained asbestos, which is a now banned building material which can cause serious illness. It needs special handling for removal and disposal.

The county filed a civil suit. Prosecutors say in a settlement, U-Haul agreed to pay more than a million dollars in fines and penalties. More than $100,000 of the project will go to fund environmental projects in the area where the warehouse is located.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.