- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Sues Former Contractor, Owner, and Managers of Salem Industrial Site Over Illegal Asbestos Work
BOSTON — The owner of a Salem industrial site and its former managers have been sued over claims that they conducted illegal asbestos work, demolished buildings and bridges without filing the proper notifications with the state, and illegally disposed of solid waste while redeveloping the site, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The lawsuit also alleges that the asbestos abatement contractor hired by the defendants conducted illegal asbestos work at the site known as Salem Oil & Grease located at 60-64 Grove Street and 3 Harmony Grove Road in Salem.
“These defendants recklessly cut corners while redeveloping this site, ignored our important air pollution and asbestos laws, and put the health and safety of their workers and the public at risk,” AG Healey said. “We will hold accountable those who fail to take the necessary precautions to protect the public from this dangerous carcinogen.”
The AG’s lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday, alleges that the conduct of MRM Project Management and Robert and Michael Hubbard violated the state’s Clean Air Act, the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, along with corresponding regulations. According to the AG’s office, the defendants illegally demolished four large industrial buildings containing asbestos, partially demolished a fifth, demolished two bridges without notifying the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), failed to report and remediate asbestos-contaminated soil and debris, and illegally disposed of solid waste. By demolishing the buildings without removing and abating the asbestos in accordance with the law, the defendants caused asbestos to mix with soil and debris at the site, thereby creating a release of hazardous materials to the environment.
The AG’s complaint further alleges that the defendants failed to perform required response actions under a plan set by MassDEP to address prior asbestos contamination at the site. Additionally, the complaint alleges that American Environmental Demolition LLC, a former asbestos abatement contractor, demolished at least two buildings at the site which contained asbestos and potentially released asbestos fibers into the air, putting the health and safety of the public and its workers at risk.
“Developers and contractors should know about the required survey for asbestos-containing materials before beginning work, and of the need to ensure that those materials are properly handled and removed from a work site,” said Eric Worrall, director of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington. “By failing to follow required work practices, the companies put workers and the public at risk. Failure to follow asbestos requirements will result in significant penalties as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs.”
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is used in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, potentially resulting in life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
AG Healey’s Office has made asbestos safety a priority. In November 2019, AG Healey released a report, highlighting the work of her office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air Initiative” that focuses on combatting harms associated with asbestos by partnering with state agencies to educate the public about asbestos safety, taking action against landlords, contractors, and property owners who break the law and advocating for stronger safety protections at the federal level. Since September 2016, the AG’s Office, with the assistance of MassDEP, has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in more than $3.5 million in civil penalties.
For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related work, visit MassDEP’s website outlining asbestos construction and demolition notification requirements.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jillian Riley and Meghan Davoren, both of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance of Senior Regional Counsel Colleen McConnell, Asbestos Enforcement Section Chief John MacAuley, Environmental Analyst Grady Dante, Section Chief of Brownfields & Risk Reduction Joanne Fagan, and Environmental Analyst Christopher Pyott of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington.