Press Release

Press Release Property Owner to Pay for Cleanup Costs Following Hazardous Chemical Explosion in Shrewsbury Backyard

For immediate release:
6/29/2022
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for Property Owner to Pay for Cleanup Costs Following Hazardous Chemical Explosion in Shrewsbury Backyard

Chloe Gotsis

BOSTONA Shrewsbury resident has agreed to pay $120,000 to reimburse the state for the cost of responding to a 2016 explosion and fire caused when his contractor demolished a backyard shed at his residential property, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today. The explosion and fire released hazardous chemicals and fumes, causing workers and a neighbor to develop respiratory problems. 

The consent judgment, which has been filed Suffolk Superior Court and is pending approval by the court, resolves a lawsuit the AG’s Office filed in April 2019 against the property’s owner, Edgar Muntz, Jr., a realty trust he owns and manages, 393 Oak Street Realty Trust, and his demolition contractor, P&M Asphalt Services, Inc. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated the state’s hazardous materials laws when P&M Asphalt Services, Inc., hired by Muntz, demolished the backyard shed, which was filled with hundreds of containers of dangerous chemicals, including dynamite, mercury, arsenic, chloroform, and sodium cyanide. The dangerous chemicals were released into the air and soil when the shed burst into flames during the demolition, and the AG’s Office alleges that, in further violation of state law, the defendants failed to report the explosion or contamination to state authorities.  

 “These defendants ignored our state’s important environmental protection laws and exposed workers and nearby residents to hazardous materials,” said AG Healey. “Today’s settlement ensures that our taxpayers won’t foot the bill for these dangerous  actions and should deter others from such reckless conduct.” 

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) responded to the scene and took remedial action to clean up the hazardous materials after a neighbor notified the department and other state and local agencies. 

 “This case shows that when responsible parties fail to respond to a significant release of hazardous materials, MassDEP will, as appropriate, step in to protect human health and the environment,” said MaryJude Pigsley, Director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “MassDEP will also, with its partners at the Attorney General’s Office, work diligently to recover the Commonwealth’s costs from the responsible parties. MassDEP now looks forward to seeing the responsible parties take remaining needed response actions pursuant to the court-approved consent judgment.” 

In 2020, the AG’s Office obtained a separate $120,000 payment as part of a settlement with the demolition contractor. 

Today’s settlement money will go toward reimbursing the state for the cost MassDEP incurred when it assessed, contained, and removed the hazardous material from the property. As part of the settlement, Muntz must also complete certain remaining remediation activities at the property.   

 This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from AG Healey’s Investigations Division, along with MassDEP’s Lucas Rogers, Chief Counsel in the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, Rhonda Russian, Senior Enforcement Counsel, and Bernadette Hayes, Enforcement Counsel, as well as Mark Baldi, Kevin Daoust, Jason Ward and Marc Collins of MassDEP’s Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup. 

 

###

Media Contact for Property Owner to Pay for Cleanup Costs Following Hazardous Chemical Explosion in Shrewsbury Backyard

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 

MassDEP staff are working both remote and in-person and are available for assistance, “Contact Us” below
Feedback