Worcester, MA – A demolition firm has been issued a $125000 fine for allegedly mishandling asbestos material at the time of a renovation project conducted at the Crompton & Knowles building located at 95 Grant St.
According to the office of the Attorney General Martha Coakley, contractor McConnell Enterprises, of Braintree, Essex, uncovered piping containing asbestos insulation while demolishing the building in year 2011, which was then left hanging 3 stories above the ground. As a result, workers and other individuals in the site were put at the risk of being exposed to the hazardous fibers of asbestos for a long time period.
McConnell – a licensed asbestos abatement contractor – removed the pipes and other materials containing asbestos ultimately from the structure on Grand St., the office said. Additionally, he failed to handle as well as store the dangerous material properly, left it in unlabeled black polythene bags in an adjacent building where people visit regularly, according to the AG’s office.
The suit, which was filed in the Suffolk County Superior Court, also states that McConnell did not follow required notification procedures and thus prevented the MassDEP (MA Department of Environmental Protection Agency) from carrying out proper oversight of the asbestos abatement activities.
For securing payment under the company’s demolition agreement with the Worcester City, according to the complaint, McConnell fallaciously certified that the company abided by the applicable regulations and laws, breaching the state False Claims Act (FCA). The suit also cites a number of breaches of the air pollution prevention statute and asbestos regulations of the commonwealth. Additionally, the contractor violated the commonwealth’s solid waste management regulations and statute, the complaint states.
Under the resolution, McConnell has to pay civil penalties of $82500 to the Massachusetts state, in addition to civil fines of $42500 if the company fails to abide by the waste rules over the coming 18 months.
McConnell officials said they would not comment on the issue.
Licensed asbestos abatement contractors are well aware of the handling, removal, storage and packaging requirements which should be followed strictly while dealing with materials containing asbestos and they know about the requirement of providing notification to the DEP prior to the commencement of work, said Kenneth Kimmell, the DEP Commissioner. He said that asbestos is a known human carcinogen and, therefore, abiding by the regulations is vital in order to protect the environment, public and workers.