Fall River Elementary School Asbestos Case Leads to 104 Indictments
FALL RIVER (WBSM) — Five people now face 104 indictments for illegally tearing down the former Harriet T. Healy Elementary School in Fall River and allegedly polluting the neighborhood with asbestos, lead and dust.
Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell announced today that the indictments were secured in the demolition of the school, which was located at 726 Hicks Street in Fall River and closed in 2009.
The A.G.’s Office alleged that during the demolition of the school, over a period of seven months, the defendants crushed asbestos and lead into a powdery substance, mixed it with other debris, and spread the mixture throughout the site and on an adjacent public sidewalk and neighboring residential properties.
The A.G.’s Office said that as a result, asbestos fibers became airborne, releasing clouds of dust visible in the surrounding neighborhood, which has 18,000 residents, five schools, a nursing home and six daycare facilities within a mile of the site.
The U.S. Environmental Agency then had to pay nearly $2 million to safely remove the asbestos from the site.
The defendants – Eric Resendes, age 42, of Fall River; his corporation, Spindle City Homes, Inc.; Richard Miranda, Sr., age 67, of Assonet; his son, Richard Miranda, Jr., age 47, of Acushnet; and his company, Diversified Roofing Systems, Inc., were indicted last week by the Bristol County Grand Jury on 104 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act.
According to the A.G.’s Office, Resendes bought the former Healy Elementary School in 2017 and hired the Mirandas as demolition contractors, “even though neither was a licensed asbestos contractor as required by law,” the A.G.’s Office said, and alleged that they removed some, but not all, of the asbestos-containing materials from the interior of the school.
It is alleged that Mirand, Jr. then applied for a city building permit to demolish the school and included an inaccurate asbestos abatement report claiming it had been properly removed.
The A.G.’s Office said the defendants “each failed to hire a licensed asbestos contractor, failed to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) of the asbestos removal activity as required by law and failed to follow the safe work practices required under the Clean Air Act.”
It is also alleged that in 2018, the defendants were ordered by MassDEP to stop demolition work, but that they allegedly ignored the order.
“The defendants completed demolition of the building and left an uncovered pile of asbestos-containing material on the site as well as asbestos-containing debris on the sidewalks next to the site – causing repeated additional air pollution and posing a potential threat to the surrounding community’s health, safety and well-being,” the A.G.’s Office said.
The defendants then allegedly repeatedly ignored or failed to carry out MassDEP order’s over the next six months to properly cover and stop removing asbestos-containing materials from the site.
The defendants will be arraigned in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River on September 11.