For Immediate Release - April 29, 2010

AG Coakley's Office Reaches Settlement with Companies for Clean Air and Solid Waste Laws Violations

BOSTON - Three companies responsible for illegally removing, transporting and disposing of asbestos-containing industrial ovens in violation of the Commonwealth's clean air and solid waste disposal laws will collectively pay $27,000 in civil penalties, under the terms of a settlement reached with Attorney General Coakley's Office. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) against GKN Sinter Metals, Inc., (GKN) a Michigan company that formerly operated a smelting business on Harding Street in Worcester; Keeney Rigging and Trucking, Inc., (Keeney) a Connecticut transporting company; and Joseph Freedman Co., Inc., (Freedman) a Massachusetts company that operates a scrap yard in Springfield.

"The improper handling of asbestos can result in health problems for the individuals exposed to the dangerous fibers," said Attorney General Coakley. "We are committed to enforcing environmental laws to protect our air quality and will vigorously pursue those who endanger workers and the public by failing to control the release of dangerous asbestos fibers."

"MassDEP's rules governing the handling of asbestos are in place to protect workers and the public from exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen," MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. "Anyone in a business dealing with materials likely to contain asbestos must be sure to know the rules and follow them."

The complaint filed against GKN, Keeney, and Freedman alleged that the companies failed to notify MassDEP as required by law before beginning to remove three asbestos-containing heat trapping ovens and improperly removed the ovens from GKN's smelting facility in Worcester. The defendants then improperly disposed of the ovens in 2008 in Freedman's scrap yard, according to the complaint filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court.

The defendants also failed to use required containment methods to ensure that asbestos would not be released to the air, and illegally disposed of asbestos waste. Because of the health risks associated with the release of asbestos fibers, the law requires strict adherence to air pollution control methods when performing asbestos abatement work.

Following an inspection by MassDEP, Freedman was notified of the alleged violations and immediately hired a licensed asbestos contractor to perform the required clean up and decontamination of the scrap yard. As a result of MassDEP's response, it is believed that the asbestos was properly contained and disposed of soon after it arrived at the scrap yard.

The settlement, filed yesterday in Suffolk Superior Court, also requires the trucking company and the scrap yard operators to undergo training in the identification of asbestos-containing material, and to adopt written policies for notifying MassDEP and hiring licensed asbestos contractors if such material is found to be present. The defendants will also be subject to contempt proceedings if they perform additional illegal asbestos removal work in Massachusetts.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer, of AG Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, and Andrew Goldberg, of the Environmental Protection Division. Mary Jude Pigsley from MassDEP's Office of General Counsel, Greg Levins and Donald Heeley from MassDEP's Central Regional Office, and Robert Shultz from MassDEP's Western Regional Office, handled the case for the environmental agency.

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