- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Shrewsbury Man Sued for Demolishing Shed Containing Dynamite, Causing Hazardous Chemical Explosion and Fire
Boston — A Shrewsbury property owner, a realty trust, and an asphalt company have been sued for allegedly causing a dangerous explosion and fire in 2017 that released hazardous material and fumes during the demolition of a storage shed, and for failing to notify authorities or take necessary cleanup actions, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG’s complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that the defendants – Edgar Muntz, Jr.,393 Oak Street Realty Trust, which Muntz owns and manages, and the Sutton-based contractor P&M Asphalt Services, Inc.— illegally demolished a backyard shed at Muntz’s Shrewsbury property, even though the shed was filled with hundreds of containers of hazardous material, including dynamite, mercury, arsenic, chloroform, and sodium cyanide. During the demolition, the shed burst into flames, releasing the hazardous material into the air and soil. The AG’s Office further alleges that the dangerous release of toxins caused workers and a neighborhood resident to develop respiratory problems.
“The careless and illegal actions of these defendants put the health of workers and nearby neighbors at serious risk – and left the state responsible for the cleanup,” AG Healey said. “We have filed this lawsuit to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to restore this property and keep the public safe.”
After a neighbor alerted authorities about the explosion, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), along with other state and local agencies, responded to the scene and took remedial action to secure the site and clean up the hazardous materials.
“MassDEP expended significant resources to contain and control a release of hazardous materials in a dense residential neighborhood due to the failure to properly remove hundreds of bottles and containers of chemicals and hazardous material before demolishing the backyard shed, putting neighbors and workers at risk to exposure,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
The AG’s Office alleges that the defendants violated the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act and the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Act by causing the release of hazardous material, failing to notify the MassDEP or any emergency response authority, and failing to take any remedial actions to mitigate impacts of the release of hazardous material into the air in a densely populated Shrewsbury neighborhood.
Through this lawsuit, the AG’s Office is seeking substantial civil penalties, damages and an injunction requiring the defendants to comply with state law and to conduct further necessary cleanup actions at the property. The AG’s Office also alleges that the state has the right to recover costs that MassDEP incurred assessing, containing, and removing the hazardous material at the site after the explosion and fire.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief Betsy Harper, and Assistant Attorneys General Tara Dunn and Tracy Triplett, all of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from MassDEP’s Lucas Rogers, Acting Chief Counsel in the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup.