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星期四, 3月 31, 2016

FOUR AFFILIATED WORCESTER-AREA COMPANIES TO PAY UP TO $129,000 TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF ASBESTOS VIOLATIONS

FOUR AFFILIATED WORCESTER-AREA COMPANIES TO PAY UP TO $129,000 TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS OF ASBESTOS VIOLATIONS
Consent Judgment Settles Lawsuit Against Patriots Environmental, Corp., Patriots Realty, LLC,  Demo Realty Co., Inc., and CRB Demolition Corp.

BOSTON — Four affiliated Worcester-area companies will pay up to $129,000 to settle allegations that their workers illegally removed, stored, and handled asbestos-containing material during two demolition projects, and that one of the companies failed to pay a $54,714 penalty for prior asbestos violations, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

The consent judgment, entered today by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran, settles a lawsuit originally brought by the AG’s Office in July 2014 against the Oxford-based Patriots Environmental for failing to follow proper procedures and safety precautions while removing asbestos-containing materials from a home in Sturbridge, and for failing to pay a $54,714 penalty assessed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos and hazardous waste violations.

“Improper handling of asbestos during construction and demolition work can cause serious health hazards,” said AG Healey. “In order to prevent the exposure of workers, the public, and the environment to dangerous asbestos fibers, such projects must be conducted in strict accordance with state regulations, and we will vigorously pursue those who fail to comply with those safety requirements.”

“Licensed asbestos contractors must follow the proper removal practices and storage requirements to protect workers and the public from being exposed to this known carcinogen,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “As this settlement reflects, MassDEP and the Attorney General’s office work together to take strong enforcement against companies that fail to comply with the asbestos regulations and put citizens of the Commonwealth at risk of exposure.”

The proper handling of asbestos-containing materials during construction and demolition work is necessary to protect human health. Airborne asbestos fibers taken into the lungs by breathing may over time cause serious lung diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, or 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, and may not show up until many years after exposure.

The complaint was amended by the AG’s Office in July 2015 to include allegations that the owners of Patriots Environmental were operating with three other companies they owned – Demo Realty in Oxford, CRB Demolition Corp. in Charlton, and Patriots Realty, LLC, in Worcester – including when conducting the illegal asbestos removal projects alleged in the complaint. The AG’s Office alleged that because Patriots Environmental shared finances, employees, ownership, and demolition and asbestos work with the other companies, they are also responsible for the violations.

In July 2013, Patriots Environmental was allegedly hired to remove asbestos shingles from the exterior walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge. During the project, Patriots Environmental, using workers from Demo Realty, allegedly caused the asbestos shingles to break apart, dropping asbestos-containing debris onto the ground and into unsealed plastic bags exposed to the air. Patriots Environmental also allegedly failed to wet, cover, or seal in containers the shingles and debris to prevent the release of asbestos fibers to the air during the work.

The amended complaint also alleged that both Demo Realty and CRB Demolition failed to properly remove asbestos-containing material during demolition of the Somerset Berkley Regional High School in Somerset. According to the complaint, the companies allegedly released asbestos fibers from the building into the air during the demolition and left piles of rubble containing asbestos on the ground without properly wetting or placing it in sealed storage containers.

Under the terms of today’s consent judgment, Patriots Environmental, Patriots Realty, Demo Realty, and CRB Demolition will pay a $129,000 civil penalty to the state, of which $65,000 will be paid out over a two-and-a-half year period, starting with an initial $20,000 due by May 1, 2016, and continuing with $9,000 payments every six months until November 1, 2018. The remaining $64,000 will be suspended if the defendants comply with the payment schedule and cause no further asbestos violations.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Tracy Triplett and Meghan Davoren, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Anne Blackman, Chief Regional Counsel, Gregory Levins, and Donald Heeley of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office, and Daniel d’Hedouville and Andrew Cooney of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office.