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Press Release Developer and Contractor Settle AG’s Claims of Illegal Asbestos Work at Lawrence Apartment Complex

Since 2016, AG’s Office Asbestos Enforcement Cases Have Resulted in Nearly $4.5 Million in Civil Penalties
For immediate release:
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for Developer and Contractor Settle AG’s Claims of Illegal Asbestos Work at Lawrence Apartment Complex

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTON A Watertown-based real estate developer and a Vermont-based contractor have agreed to pay up to $335,000 to settle allegations that workers improperly handled, stored, and disposed of asbestos-containing material and solid waste during the redevelopment of a former manufacturing site in Lawrence, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

The consent judgments, entered Friday in Suffolk Superior Court, settle allegations that Washington Mills II LLP, the developer and owner of the site, and PC Construction Company, the general contractor, violated the Massachusetts Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Management Act and their corresponding regulations by illegally handling, storing, and disposing of asbestos and solid waste while redeveloping two former manufacturing buildings into a large residential and commercial complex in Lawrence. The AG’s Office alleges that these violations potentially endangered the health of workers at the site, the public, and nearby residents in Lawrence – a densely populated environmental justice community.

“Asbestos can pose serious health risks to workers and residents if it’s not handled properly by contractors,” said AG Healey. “My office has made enforcing our state’s asbestos safety laws a top priority – especially in environmental justice communities like Lawrence, where residents are more vulnerable to pollution and other environmental harms.”

The AG’s complaint specifically alleges that during the demolition and renovation of the buildings at the site, workers illegally stockpiled and reused excavated asbestos-containing material and other solid waste in an open courtyard and parking areas without required surveys or approvals. According to the complaint, the defendants then allegedly demolished and renovated portions of the basements of two buildings at the site that contained large piles of asbestos-containing material and waste without first surveying the basements for asbestos and notifying the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The AG’s Office further alleges that, during the demolition and renovation, the defendants failed to properly abate the asbestos-containing material and waste prior to demolition or renovation and to follow any workplace safety requirements intended to prevent exposure to asbestos. 

The community surrounding the development has been designated as an environmental justice community by the Commonwealth. Environmental justice communities tend to be disproportionately impacted by environmental harms and risks, isolated from environmental decision making, and less able to access state environmental resources.

“It is critically important that property owners, as well as construction companies, identify asbestos-containing materials and ensure that those materials are properly removed before beginning any demolition or renovation, particularly in densely populated urban areas,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen and following the required work practices is imperative to protect workers and the public.”

Under the terms of the settlements, Washington Mills has agreed to pay $175,000 to the state and PC Construction has agreed to pay $160,000, with $30,000 suspended pending compliance with the consent judgment. PC Construction is also required to ensure that all supervisors working on Massachusetts construction projects undertake asbestos training and to submit regular reports identifying ongoing construction projects in the state, along with asbestos surveys and notifications.

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, and long-term disease 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’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.” Since September 2016, the AG’s Office, with the assistance of MassDEP, has successfully brought asbestos enforcement cases that together have resulted in nearly $4.5 million in civil penalties. In her May 2020 brief on the environmental factors that compound the COVID-19 pandemic’s disparate impact on environmental justice communities in Massachusetts, AG Healey identified pursuing enforcement cases in such communities as an important step to address the longstanding impact of environmental injustice on the state’s families.

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 Environmental Analyst Grady Dante of MassDEP’s Northeastern Regional Office in Wilmington and Acting Deputy Regional Director of the Bureau of Air and Waste John MacAuley.


Media Contact for Developer and Contractor Settle AG’s Claims of Illegal Asbestos Work at Lawrence Apartment Complex

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

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