Worcester Business Owner Arraigned for Allegedly Illegally Removing Asbestos From Worcester Home
Some of the Asbestos-Containing Material was Allegedly Improperly Disposed of in Basement of the Home
WORCESTER — The owner of a Worcester plumbing and heating company has been arraigned in connection with the alleged improper removal and disposal of asbestos in a Worcester home, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. Some of the asbestos-containing material was allegedly improperly disposed of in the basement of the home.
Francis Scavone III, age 27, owner of Scavone Plumbing & Heating, was arraigned on Monday in Worcester Superior Court on charges of Violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (5 counts) in connection with failing to file the required notification of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), failing to follow the required procedures relative to removal of asbestos, and disposing a portion of the asbestos waste in an unpermitted location, namely the basement of the home.
At the arraignment, Scavone pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on personal recognizance, with the condition that he abstain from working on any job or project involving asbestos-containing material.
“We allege that this defendant is responsible for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos, a hazardous material, therefore putting the homeowner and workers at risk,” AG Coakley said. “Companies and individuals must adhere to strict guidelines relating to asbestos removal in order to prevent people from being exposed to this dangerous toxin.”
“Plumbing and heating contractors are well aware that asbestos is a known carcinogen because they encounter asbestos-containing materials routinely in their line of work,” MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said. “The removal and disposal must be done by licensed and trained asbestos professionals in accordance with the regulations and with the required work practices to protect workers, the general public and the environment.”
The Environmental Crimes Strike Force began an investigation in December 2012, after the matter was referred by the Massachusetts Emergency Response Agency (MEMA) and initially inspected by investigators from the MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.
According to authorities, in November 2012, Scavone Plumbing & Heating began work to remove an old heating system from a residence in Worcester. Authorities allege that Scavone failed to notify MassDEP that the work would be disturbing asbestos when removing the boiler and did not follow the appropriate procedures to prevent asbestos emissions.
The Department of Labor Standards requires that the removal of asbestos be performed by a licensed contractor, and pursuant to MassDEP regulations, contractors must provide notification of when the removal will occur and follow certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.
Authorities also allege employees of Scavone Plumbing & Heating who were performing the work were instructed to dispose of some of the asbestos-containing material in the crawl space of the basement of the home.
This action stems from an investigation by environmental analysts at MassDEP, Gregory Levins and Donald Heeley, and the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Scavone on September 19. He was arraigned on Monday in Worcester Superior Court and is due back in court on December 5 for a pre-trial conference.
Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Licata of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from Environmental Police assigned to the AG’s Office, MassDEP and MEMA.