Two of the town of Marion’s top officials were released on bond Friday morning after their arrest on charges related to asbestos at the city’s fire department.
A Marion County grand jury returned indictments earlier this week against Marion Fire Chief Ralph Cooper III and City Administrator Alan Ammons, claiming both men knew the building contained the hazardous material but allowed visitors and employees to risk exposure during its demolition. Both will be charged with misconduct in office, violating the state’s Pollution Control Act and conspiracy to violate the Pollution Control Act.
The indictments claim Ammons, who was also the small city’s building inspector, allowed fire department staff, volunteers and members of the public to be exposed to asbestos while the building was in the process of being demolished between February and May. The work likely stirred the fibers, which have been linked to mesothelioma and lung caner. The material is no longer used in new construction, but is often still present in older structures.
A judge released the pair on $10,000 personal recognizance bonds, according to WMBF News.
City officials are not commenting on the arrests. “We are monitoring the situation and are in the process of determining what action, if any, needs to be taken against them by the city of Marion,” Mayor Ashley Brady said in a statement. “However, because this is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment until their charges are resolved through the legal process.”
Cooper’s attorney said his client did not participate in any criminal conduct and that he believes the indictments were ill-advised.