Illegal Asbestos Settlement for New Bedford Industrial Park
BOSTON — The owner of a New Bedford industrial building complex and three companies hired to demolish the facility will pay a total of $377,600 in penalties to settle allegations that they caused or allowed illegal asbestos work at the site, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The consent judgments, entered yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, partially settle a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office on Sept. 5 against Multilayer Coating Technologies, LLC, the Lexington-based company that owned the site; Sabre Demolition Corp., a New York demolition contractor; American Environmental Consultants, Inc., the Weymouth-based environmental consultant; MK Environmental, a Lowell-based asbestos abatement company; and Advanced Construction Technologies Corp., a Rhode Island asbestos-abatement company.
The lawsuit alleges that the companies violated the state’s clean air law and regulations in 2012 and 2013, when their workers failed to take the required safety precautions when removing asbestos at the site and failed to remove all of the asbestos-containing material at the site before demolishing the building.
“Asbestos creates major environmental and health hazards for workers and the public,” said AG Healey. “We want to make sure that companies are complying with asbestos abatement work and not putting people at risk.”
The AG’s complaint alleges that Sabre demolished a portion of the facility containing asbestos without taking the required precautions to protect the public or workers from asbestos exposure and subsequently failed to ensure that asbestos-contaminated waste was secured properly. The lawsuit also alleges that MK Environmental and Advanced Construction failed to remove all of the asbestos-containing material from the portions of the projects that they were hired to abate and that Multilayer and American supervised the other companies’ work and caused or allowed their violations.
The claims against MK Environmental for its role in the violations were not settled by today’s consent judgment and will proceed in Suffolk Superior Court.
According to the lawsuit, despite repeated inspections and orders by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Department of Labor Standards (DLS), the companies continued to perform illegal asbestos demolition and left dusty asbestos-containing waste material dry and exposed at multiple locations at the site over several months, posing health risks to the public and workers. The AG’s Office also alleges in the complaint that the companies’ handling of the asbestos-containing waste was so shoddy that a previously uncontaminated building at the site became contaminated from their work and ultimately required abatement. Following the violations, the site was cleaned up, and the demolition work was completed safely under the supervision of MassDEP and DLS.
“Most asbestos abatement companies do the job right, protecting their workers, the public and the environment from the harmful effects of friable asbestos,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “MassDEP works closely with our partners at DLS, and with the Attorney General’s Office, to address violations from companies who do violate the law and do not take proper precautions to protect their workers, the public and the environment from asbestos.”
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not show up until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.
AG Healey has made asbestos safety a priority, as part of the office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air” Initiative that was announced in March to better protect the health of children, families, and workers in Massachusetts from health risks posed by asbestos. Over the past year, the AG’s Office has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in up to $1,042,600 in civil penalties.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Louis Dundin of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Asbestos Program Section Chief Cynthia Baran, Environmental Analyst Colleen Ferguson, and Senior Regional Counsel Daniel d’Hedouville of MassDEP’s Southeastern Regional Office in Lakeville, and Health Inspector Avelina Correia of the Department of Labor Standards Regional Office in New Bedford.
--Attorney General Maura Healey's Office