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California Business & Professions Code Section 7028.1 BPC: Engaging In Asbestos / Underground Tank Work Without Certification

It is incredibly dangerous to work with underground tanks or asbestos. The work has the potential to cause serious property damage and injuries if it is not conducted by an individual who knows how to adhere to safety protocols. Individuals must receive proper certification before they can engage in work related to asbestos or the removal, installation, or maintenance of an underground storage tank. Doing this type of work without proper certification is a crime according to California Business and Professions Code Section 7028.1 BPC, even if the individual has a valid contracting license.

To convict an individual of this crime, prosecutors must prove the following circumstances:

  • The defendant engaged in work related to asbestos without a valid certification
  • Alternatively, the defendant participated in a remedial action or removal of asbestos without a valid certification
  • Alternatively, the defendant removed or installed an underground storage tank and did not have proper certification or a certification exemption

The statute defines an underground storage tank as any storage tank along with the underground piping connected to it, as long as at least ninety percent of the tank’s volume is underground. Oftentimes, these tanks are used for the storage of petroleum and other potentially hazardous material.

Examples of the Crime

An individual has a valid contracting license and deals with construction removal projects. The individual contracts to tear down an entire historic property. While he surveys the scene, he notices that the amount of asbestos that needs to be removed is unusually high. Even though the man does not have a certification for asbestos removal, he agrees to remove it. This individual could be convicted of removing asbestos without certification.

An individual has a valid contracting license and is contracted to complete a large renovation of a property’s entire foundation. When the foundation is dug up, the contractor notices that underneath the foundation is a damaged septic tank. The man takes the septic tank out and repairs it as part of his contract. This man would not be guilty of a Section 7028.1 violation, because septic tanks are not defined as underground storage tanks. The statute lists them as an exemption to the underground storage tank definition.

Defenses for Non-Certified Asbestos or Underground Storage Tank Work

To be criminally liable under this statute, the defendant must have knowingly engaged in asbestos related work. If the defendant was not knowledgeable about the work, they wouldn’t be liable. This type of defense might occur if the defendant receives a contract for a job and is midway through the project before they discover that large quantities of asbestos are present.

Penalties for Non-Certified Asbestos or Underground Storage Tank Work

Individuals who violate this statute by engaging in underground tank or asbestos work without a valid certification can be charged with a misdemeanor. First convictions can be punishable by fines ranging from $1000 to $3000 along with the suspension or revocation of a valid contractor’s license. Repeat offenses are subject to fines ranging from $3000 to $5000 and up to one year spent in jail. In some cases, both the fine and imprisonment are imposed. When this is the case, the contractor’s license must be revoked or suspended by law.

Similar Crimes

There are crimes that are similar in nature to this statute violation. An individual may be charged with these crimes in addition to this statute violation, or alternatively may be charged with these crimes instead of this particular statute violation. The most closely related crimes are these:

  • Contracting Without a License
  • Fraudulent Use of a Contractor’s License Number

In both of these cases, these charges would be added to a Section 7028.1 violation charge. If a person willingly engaged in non-certified asbestos removal or tank moving without a contractor license, they’ll be additionally charged with contracting without a license. In some cases, an individual may be charged with all three crimes if they do not have a contracting license but use another contractor’s license number and claim it as their own.

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