AG Healey Announces Owner of Former Paper Plant in Lawrence Will Pay Nearly $600,000 for Illegal Demolition, Asbestos Violations
Court Order Prevents Defunct Company from Conducting Further Work at Property
BOSTON — The owner of a former paper plant in Lawrence has been ordered to pay $591,100 in penalties and agency response costs related to years of illegal demolition and metal salvaging that released dangerous asbestos at the property, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The final judgment, entered in Suffolk Superior Court on Sept. 8 by Judge Bonnie MacLeod, also prohibits David Padellaro and his now defunct company, Merrimack Street Redevelopment Authority, LLC, from conducting further work at the South Canal Street property, except as necessary to comply with a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) approved plan to safely remediate the damage.
“Mr. Padellaro’s actions put both his workers and the health of the public at risk,” AG Healey said. “We are pleased that this judgement not only imposes a substantial penalty for Mr. Padellaro’s longstanding illegal activities, but that it will pave the way for cleaning up the property and allowing it to be restored by the city.”
“For too long, Mr. Padellaro conducted activities with little consideration of the impact those actions had on the local environment or the health of his workers or the public at-large,” MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg said. “This court order bars those activities, properly penalizes Mr. Padellaro for the violations, and moves this site closer to a comprehensive cleanup.”
“Thanks to Attorney General Healey and her staff for sticking with this investigation and ensuring that after avoiding and evading the financial and safety responsibility that Mr. Padellaro has to the City of Lawrence, that the residents and taxpayers who have been footing the bill will finally have their say,” Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said.
The final judgment orders Padellaro to pay $400,000 in civil penalties and more than $111,000 to reimburse the state for contractor expenses and other costs incurred by MassDEP in addressing the damage he caused at the property. It also requires Padellaro to pay $79,800 for past-due MassDEP administrative penalties assessed in October 2011.
The property located on the Merrimack River was acquired by Padellaro in 2010 and houses numerous vacant, structurally unsound and asbestos-riddled buildings. The buildings on the property have been repeatedly vandalized and damaged by fires over the years and now are in danger of potentially collapsing.
Despite MassDEP issuing two administrative orders and repeated warnings about the risks to his workers Padellaro continued his metal salvaging operations for years without implementing legally required safety measures including:
- Wetting building areas to prevent the release of asbestos;
- Monitoring the air during such operations;
- Properly disposing of asbestos-containing waste material at the site.
Padellaro also allegedly allowed illegal storage of solid waste at the site, including concrete, brick, metal and other debris, and failed to give MassDEP required notice of his metal salvaging and demolition activities on numerous occasions over the past three years.
MassDEP paid $111,300 in contractor and oversight costs to control the damage that Padellaro did to the site.
The AG’s Office filed a complaint against Padellaro and his company in February 2014. A preliminary injunction was also ordered that prohibited him from conducting further work at the property.
The final judgment keeps in place the preliminary injunction’s ban on all demolition and salvage work at the site, except as necessary to allow EPA to complete its work or to comply with a MassDEP-approved plan to remove all remaining non-intact asbestos and illegal solid waste at the property, in accordance with asbestos, solid waste, and hazardous materials laws.
Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett from Attorney General Healey’s Environmental Protection Division is handling this case, with assistance from Investigator Anthony Crespi, along with John MacAuley of MassDEP’s Asbestos Compliance Program, Chris Bresnahan of MassDEP’s Waste Site Cleanup Program and Colleen McConnell of MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel.