- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Developer Settles Claims Related to Release of Hazardous Materials During Renovation of Worcester Apartment Building
BOSTON — A Worcester real estate company and its manager have agreed to pay up to $55,000 to settle allegations that they knowingly failed to report releases of oil and hazardous materials at a property they redeveloped into a residential apartment building and neglected to take steps to protect public health and safety, as required by state law, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
“This company’s failure to report or take timely steps to cleanup dangerous contamination is not only illegal, but put workers, residents, and the public at risk,” said AG Healey. “Developers and property owners cannot ignore the law and risk exposing innocent people to environmental hazards. We will hold accountable those who do, especially in our already overburdened environmental justice communities.”
A consent judgment, filed and entered in Suffolk Superior Court, settles allegations that ASAA, LLC and its manager, Anthony Bianco, violated the state’s “Superfund” law, known as the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, and its implementing regulations, by failing to provide timely notification to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) of several releases of hazardous materials, including lead, discovered during the renovation and redevelopment of a former machine shop into a 24-unit apartment building, and failed to properly assess and clean up the hazardous materials. The defendants allegedly knew that the lead in the soil at the property could pose an imminent hazard to public health and safety.
According to the AG’s complaint, the defendants failed on numerous occasions to submit required documentation to MassDEP, including the documentation needed to verify the proper transport and disposal of stockpiles of arsenic and lead contaminated soil, a drum containing approximately 20-gallons of sludge scraped from the bottom of an underground heating oil storage tank, and asbestos-containing materials from window glazing, window caulking, door frame caulking, roofing materials and roofing cement removed from the building during the renovation.
“Property developers must exercise care in moving and disposing of contaminated materials from construction sites,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s regional office in Worcester. “They must also plan for ongoing assessment of the potential health impacts of onsite construction, especially where the development includes residences. When companies comply with environmental regulations at the outset, the cost is much less in the long run.”
The consent judgment requires ASAA and Bianco to assess the extent of contamination at the property and comply with applicable cleanup requirements, in addition to paying the civil penalties. Out of the $55,000 in civil penalties in the consent judgment, $25,000 may be suspended and waived if the defendants comply with their requirements in the settlement including obligations related to ongoing monthly indoor air quality monitoring to assure that an active sub-slab depressurization system installed at the building, and designed to prevent hazardous vapors from soil from entering the building, continues to function properly.
The property is located within a part of Worcester that constitutes an environmental justice community. In a brief issued in May 2020 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 vulnerable residents.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Carol Iancu of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Chief Enforcement Counsel and Environmental Strike Force Director Pamela Talbot and Environmental Investigator of MassDEP’s Environmental Strike Force Stephen Spencer, both of MassDEP’s Boston office, and Chief Regional Counsel Anne Blackman, Regional Counsel Bernadette Hayes, Deputy Regional Director of the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup Mark Baldi, Section Chief of Emergency Response and Risk Reduction Kevin Daoust, and Environmental Analyst Jay Ward, all of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester.