Environmental Company Sued for Improper Asbestos Removal in Sturbridge and Failing to Pay State Fees
BOSTON — An Oxford environmental company has been sued for allegedly failing to follow proper procedures and safety precautions while removing asbestos-containing materials from a home in Sturbridge, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The lawsuit against Patriots Environmental Corporation, filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, also alleges that the company failed to pay permit fees to the Commonwealth for at least 24 separate projects, as well as a $50,000 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos and hazardous waste violations at other sites.
“Asbestos removal is a serious public safety matter and must be performed according to strict procedures to prevent exposure to asbestos fibers, which can create very serious health problems,” AG Coakley said. “Companies working with asbestos-containing materials must be held to the highest standards of care and compliance as ordered under our state air laws and regulations.”
“Licensed asbestos contractors are well aware of the work practices that must be followed when removing, handling, packaging, and disposing of asbestos-containing materials in order to protect workers as well as the general public,” said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. “They also know to properly notify MassDEP and pay the required permit fee in advance of commencing any asbestos removal project because asbestos is a known carcinogen.”
According to the complaint, in July 2013, Patriots was hired to remove asbestos shingles from the exterior walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge. During the renovation, Patriots allegedly caused the asbestos shingles to break apart, dropping debris onto on the ground and into unsealed plastic bags exposed to the air. Patriots also allegedly failed to wet, cover, or keep in sealed containers the transite asbestos shingles that it removed during the renovation.
Further, the complaint also alleges that Patriots, for at least 25 asbestos removal or construction and demolition projects between November 2012 and December 2013, failed to pay required permit application fees when notifying the Commonwealth of the intended operations. Additionally, Patriots failed to pay a civil administrative penalty of approximately $50,000 assessed by MassDEP against Patriots for its illegal handling of asbestos and hazardous waste at various sites in the Commonwealth in 2008.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties for Massachusetts Clean Air Act violations, as well as payment of the outstanding fees and penalties.
Assistant Attorneys General Tracy Triplett and Turner Smith of AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division are handling the case, along with Mary Jude Pigsley, Gregory Levins, and Donald Heeley of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.
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