- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Boston — A Quincy-based contractor and a New Hampshire-based asbestos-abatement company will pay a total of $215,000 to settle allegations regarding illegal asbestos work at development projects in Lowell and Haverhill, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The consent judgment, entered today in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office against Dellbrook Construction, LLC, the Quincy-based general contractor, and A-Best Abatement, Inc., the New Hampshire-based asbestos abatement company. The lawsuit alleges that Dellbrook and A-Best failed to comply with the state’s clean air law and regulations governing the safe handling of asbestos at construction projects.
"Companies must ensure that any construction and demolition work involving asbestos is done in a safe and legal way to protect workers and the public,” AG Healey said.
The AG’s Office alleges that the defendants caused or allowed the removal of asbestos-containing materials from the basement of a five-story building under renovation at Mass Mills, a residential development project in Lowell, without sealing or properly ventilating work areas or following other work practices required by law to minimize asbestos exposure.
The defendants also allegedly left asbestos visible in a basement area and stored dry, broken asbestos-containing material in torn, unsealed bags in a waste trailer in a parking lot behind the building. The AG’s lawsuit further alleges that Dellbrook demolished and removed asbestos-containing materials from other areas of Mass Mills without surveying those areas for asbestos or notifying the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
“General contractors and asbestos abatement companies have a duty to faithfully follow the laws and regulations that are designed to protect the environment and public health,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “When they don’t, the Commonwealth will hold them accountable.”
According to the complaint, Dellbrook also polluted the air with asbestos during construction at Harbor Place, a Haverhill development project, by causing or allowing an underground asbestos-containing pipe to be crushed into small, dry pieces and scattered in open air around the property. Dellbrook allegedly failed to follow any of the required work practices or notify MassDEP before demolishing the pipe and endangering health and safety.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that has been 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. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term non-cancer disease of the lungs for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, that may not show up until many years after exposure, and that has no known cure, although treatment methods are available to address the effects of the disease.
AG Healey has made asbestos safety a priority, as part of the office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air” Initiative that was announced in March to better protect the health of children, families, and workers in Massachusetts from health risks posed by asbestos. Since September 2016, the AG’s Office, with the assistance of MassDEP, has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in approximately $1.7 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 was handled by Assistant Attorney General Turner Smith of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Senior Regional Counsel Colleen McConnell, Asbestos Program Section Chief John Macauley, and Asbestos Program Environmental Analyst Grady Dante, all of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington.