By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Three people face possible prison terms after pleading guilty to illegally removing asbestos from a former Southwest Michigan power plant. They also agreed to reimburse the federal government for the approximately $1 million that the Environmental Protection Agency spent to clean up the contaminated facility in Kalamazoo County’s Comstock Township. Investigators believe the case “may be the largest asbestos release in Michigan since it was declared a hazardous air pollutant in 1971,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids said. The trio’s illegal activity, spanning more than a year in 2011-12, imperiled the environment as well as the health of the public and laborers on the project, according to the EPA. Scientists have linked asbestos to serious health dangers such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and nonmalignant lung disorders.