Worcester Area Plumber Found Guilty of Illegal Asbestos Removal and Child Endangerment
Defendant Previously Found Guilty of Larceny for Work Performed in the Worcester County Area
WORCESTER — A Worcester area plumbing and heating contractor has been found guilty of illegal asbestos removal and disposal charges, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. In the first use of the child endangerment statute in an asbestos case, the defendant was also found guilty of endangering the safety of a teenager contracted to help with the asbestos removal and disposal.
After a five-day trial, a Worcester Superior Court jury found Daniel Watterson, age 43, guilty on Monday on three charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for Failure to File Notices of Asbestos Removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), Improper Removal of Asbestos-Containing Material, and Improper Disposal of Asbestos-Containing Materials. Watterson was also found guilty of one count of Child Endangerment.
On August 21, 2013, after a seven-day bench trial in Worcester Superior Court, Watterson was found guilty by Judge Richard T. Tucker of the charges of Larceny over $250 of a Victim over Sixty Years of Age and Larceny over $250 by False Pretenses.
Judge Tucker and Judge David Ricciardone will sentence Watterson on all charges on July 3 in Worcester Superior Court.
Watterson, a plumbing and heating contractor, who operates in the Worcester County area under the business names “The Clog Specialist,” “Dan the Heating Man,” and “DW Plumbing & Heating,” illegally removed and disposed of asbestos from a Worcester residence in April 2008. Watterson was contracted to remove two old boilers from the residence and to install two new boilers.
Watterson directed a teenager to remove the asbestos insulation from the old boilers, to demolish the old boilers, and to dispose of the waste from the job. Under regulations of the MassDEP and the Division of Labor Standards, the removal of asbestos must be done by a licensed contractor utilizing personal protective equipment and air filtration machines, containing the area where the asbestos is removed, wetting the asbestos before removal, and giving advance notification to MassDEP regulations as to when the removal will occur.
Watterson gave the teenager no protective clothing, no respirator, and no protective equipment of any kind before directing him to carry out the asbestos removal. The teenager failed to wet the asbestos prior to its removal and crudely removed it from the boilers and pipes by ripping the insulation and chipping it with putty knives. He also demolished the asbestos coated boilers with a sledgehammer and a saw and then, at Watterson’s direction, disposed of the asbestos waste in a regular trash dumpster rented by Watterson.
This verdict stems from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Cash. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the AG’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.
The case was prosecuted by Andrew Rainer, Chief of the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, and Assistant Attorney General Michael Pine with assistance from Ashley Cinelli of the Victim Witness Services Division. ECSF officials involved in this investigation included officers of the Massachusetts Environmental Police and MassDEP officials Donald Heeley and Gregory Levins.
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